Why You Choose Bad Website Designers

By Colin Ryan

Industry News, Guides & Tips

You may be to blame for your website designer's mistakesIt’s Not His Fault (Not Entirely, Anyway)

Ever hired someone to build you a website, only to be disappointed in the results? You’re not alone. A 2011 survey of small business owners found that nearly a third were dissatisfied with their web presence, and it’s unlikely that this share has decreased with the passing of a year.

But while there are plenty of lousy website designers out there, they’re not really at fault here–after all, most of them aren’t trying to scam you. In fact, they probably don’t even know their designs are lousy. Instead, if you’re looking for someone to blame, you might consider looking in the mirror. Here’s why.

You’re using the wrong vocabulary.

A web designer who throws around words like “branding,” “beautiful,” “modern,” “sleek,” and “functional” may sound reassuring at first. But in reality, they’re just empty buzzwords he’s using to cover up his lack of experience.

Remember, your website exists for a very specific purpose: to generate business. That means your website should revolve around tangible, measurable goals, and any discussion of it should use words that reflect those goals: “increase,” “sales,” “leads,” “rank,” “return on investment,” etc.

You’re letting him write your website copy.

“Writing code” is not the same as “writing.” Web designers may have plenty of valuable skills when it comes to producing a site that is technologically sound and visually appealing; frequently, however, the ability to write quality content is not among those skills.

Even if your designer can write, your site’s copy is probably lowest on his list of priorities, and will receive the smallest part of his attention. Instead, choose a website designer who works in tandem with a copywriter, or hire a writer on your own.

You’re too focused on the bells and whistles.

Many people assume that web design is about building a site that’s beautiful and eye-catching. But developing a website is like developing any other kind of structure: function takes precedence over form. Imagine if every architect out there designed schools and Shell stations like Antoni Gaudi designed the Sagrada Familia–we’d be uneducated and perpetually out of gas. (At least tow truck drivers would be happy.)

Instead of getting hung up on flash navigation menus, complex textures, and unique layouts, make sure your designer concerns himself with providing a site where customers can easily find the information and perform the actions they want.

You keep hiring artists.

Art is an indispensable part of the human experience, but there’s a reason art and business don’t mix well: art is based on provoking thoughts and feelings, while business websites are based on provoking specific actions–most notably, inquiries and payments for products and services. Artists aren’t known for their efficiency or focus, either.

Your pick may not be the most inspiring web developer on the block; but given a choice between Van Gogh and a designer who will deliver a solid product on time and at the agreed-upon price, I’d choose the latter.

You’re obsessed with robots.

Of course you want your website to be SEO friendly. After all, a website that ranks low on Google and Bing won’t get many visitors, no matter how good its content and design are. But search engines aren’t the ones investing in your products and services: people are. A web designer whose top priority is building search engine optimized websites is probably doing so at the expense of the kind of website content that appeals to human beings.

Unless you shift your focus to generating leads and customers, your website will continue to be a money sink.

You’re listening to amateurs.

Your friend Sarah may have a terrific, highly-ranked website for her cupcake business, but that doesn’t mean she knows anything about how to design a marketing website for your real estate business–or, for that matter, how to design a website period.

While it may be worth asking her for a referral for her web developer, be sure to take any other advice on your site’s appearance, features, or infrastructure with a grain of salt.

You’re asking too much.

Ask and ye shall receive. Only then will you realize that you didn’t need half of the features you asked your designer to build into your website. Now, instead of a svelte, efficient site that gets people in quickly and turns them into customers, you have a sluggish site that neither you or your visitors know how to use.

Don’t forget, too, that your website designer will always be a third party. That is, no matter how well you communicate, the longer your site spends in his hands, the higher the risk that he’ll lose sight of your goals for your business.

Have your own wisdom to impart when it comes to choosing a website designer? Give us your input in the comments!

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