Getting your website redesigned is both an exciting and daunting idea, especially if your site has not been updated in several years. Modern web technologies allow sites to include great visuals, fancy features, and a ton of insight on what your visitors' behaviors are.
It’s also gotten easier for just about anybody to help you throw together a quick website. Whether it's a "low-cost agency," a young web design start-up, or even your nephew, Tim—websites are now being sold as commodities, without much attention to the fact that they do, in fact, impact your business.
Why pay $2,500 for a website if it results in absolutely nothing for your business? That's money down the drain. In this article, I'll highlight 9 ways web designers rip companies off by failing to focus on websites as business development opportunities. The overall lesson? Websites should be an investment with a guaranteed minimum return. If you're putting money down, and not calculating a desired ROI, then you're absolutely getting ripped off.
Don't let this happen to you. Look out for these 9 mistakes.
1. Failing to Consider Primary Personas
The very first thing you need to think about when doing a website redesign before a single line of code is written or piece of wireframe is laid down is to consider who the ideal personas are that you want to visit your site. If the design firm you are working with is not considering who you want to attract they don’t have your company's interest in mind.
2. Focusing on Looks over Functionality
The designer you want to work with is showing you all the pretty sites they have made. Maybe they are flash, maybe they are HTML5...either way, they look great!
However, something is lacking: basic functionality.
When a designer jumps instantly into graphics and animations without talking about the basic functionality of your site it should throw up a red flag. The purpose of a website is not only to look great but serve the function of informing your visitors of your company's products and services, as well as nurturing the qualified visitors along your marketing path.
Flash can make a website look great, but it is terrible for SEO. Similarly, all those high-resolution photos look amazing on your 24-inch desktop display, but they may never get seen if it takes too long for your website to load.
If your website design company is not talking about these things from the beginning, you're getting ripped off.
3. Not Working Within a Set Budget
Great designers and web development companies deserve to be paid well. That does not mean they have the right to rip you off.
If your company does not have a large budget a good company will work with you to get results inside that budget. Perhaps that means doing some simple things first, like on-site SEO for your existing site, before committing to a complete site-wide redesign. Another tactic could be to spread the work out over several quarters, or even a year, to fit into your online marketing budget.
What a good company will not do is lower their price only knowing they are going to come back and ask for more when the work is not complete. An honest company will be up front with what they can afford to do within your budget.
4. Building a Site That's Impossible to Update on Your Own
A good website needs to be easy to edit, at least for simple things like updating copy and changing out images.
Predatory companies will insist that they need to do all updates to your site, either making the site very difficult to manage or not giving you access to the backend at all.
In the modern era of content management systems, updating page titles and adding blog posts is as simple as writing a word document. There is no reason you need to have a company charge you just to change out a few words.
5. Trying to Make a Website Too Clever
Sometimes a website's design can be too clever. Web designers have an inane desire to have everything they create be unique. They never want to do the same thing twice, and in an effort to redesign the wheel they create a site with esoteric navigation where your average visitor can’t find their way around.
Just because a site is not unique does not mean it is poorly designed. In fact, following good design has led to many standard conventions in general website layouts. So much so that when looking for a Contact Us page you almost always find it as the right-most link in the main menu, and that the main menu navigation will also be repeated in the footer for convenience.
6. Spending Too Little
While a company can charge you too much for a redesign, they can also charge you too little as well. This tends to be more of a problem dealing with small design firms or freelancers. Everybody knows someone that could help them build a website for free or cheap.
The problem with working with most of these designers is that they tend to skip important steps, such as asking you what the primary function of your website is, or what your ideal visitors are like. Instead, they jump straight into construction without thinking things through and you'll either end up with a site that is not ideal for your company or one that will require a number of redesigns, increasing time and costs above what it should have been had you used a company that took the time to understand what you really needed.
7. Not Planning for After the Site is "Finished"
Many companies and individuals make the mistake of thinking of a website as a static piece of content: once it’s up and running, it's finished.
In reality, your website should be changing on a regular basis. That includes things as simple as adding blog posts and news updates to creating new resources like calculators or other applicable tools for your customers to benefit from.
8. Not Designing for Mobile
The future of the web is mobile. There is already more mobile traffic online than from desktops. If the web design company you are working with is not considering mobile optimization, or maybe even mobile-first design, your website will be living in the past.
9. Refusing to Realize You Don't Need a Website Redesign
When you have a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. When you are a web designer everything starts to look like a problem that can be solved with a new website. Be wary of companies that tell you that you need a new website just because you have not changed your old site in a while.
Even if your website is not performing as desired it could be a different problem than the design of the site itself. Maybe your current site design is great, but you have a content generation problem or some workflow issues. Perhaps you have some on page SEO optimization that needs to be done, or just some simple image compression so your website loads faster.
If you're considering a website redesign, make sure you actually need one.
There are plenty more things to watch out for when looking for someone to help with your redesign; these are just a few of the big ones. On the other hand, working with the right company that focuses on your visitors' needs will get you a great website that does more than just look good—a website that converts.
Posted by Jonathan Stanis An engineer by training, Jon focuses on the technical delivery of an effective inbound marketing program. He builds client website plans that solve for conversion potential and utilize smart user experiences. He is also responsible for analyzing and monitoring the success of inbound projects. Jon fits the definition of being a "whole brain marketer" because he is both a strong writer-designer and a deeply analytical thinker.