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Jun 16, 201403:39 PMIt's All About Content

with Thomas Marks

Bad website development? It just needs to stop!

(page 1 of 2)

Perhaps it doesn’t. After all, the mistakes of so many are the good fortunes of a few. There it was, staring me in the face for the second time this year. For the fifth time in 17 months. For the ninth time in the last two and a half years.

It wasn’t just another bad website someone developed for a prospective client of ours — those we see almost every week now. It was another bad website that was only a few months old, and the client was upset, miffed, put out, and feeling betrayed. Money down the drain, time well wasted, opportunities squandered.

There are so many reasons why website design and development go haywire. Certainly, people want things on the cheap, only to learn a short time later they need a do-over. Ouch. But more frequently it’s because the communications industry is filled with ambitious communicators. There are a whole lot of talkers, but not many listeners. A whole lot of chest-thumping, but not much brain-pumping. And most of all, a whole lot of “we can do that” and not enough “we just can’t do that.”

Redesigning a company’s website when it just had its website redesigned is a painful and sad experience. For almost everyone. The client has been taken, you feel awful for them, and the “takee” lives another day. But if you’re seeing red now, chances are there were red flags and red herrings at the outset. Believe me, it’s okay to walk away and save some time and money in the process.

Here are a few questions to ask that separate the men from the boys in the world of website design and development. The first three are obvious, the others not so much. Sure, there are plenty of other questions to be asked, but this is a start.

  1. How many websites have you designed? Personally, nothing fewer than 100 would be suitable to me.
  2. How long have you been doing it?
  3. Show me a handful of sites that you’ve designed in our industry or a related business. This is a critical difference-maker.

(Continued)

Old to new | New to old
Jun 17, 2014 02:20 pm
 Posted by  Ben S.

Tom,

Well said. I would add a few things:
* Before building a web site, a company must develop a brand. We often work with business that have no brand to speak of, or perhaps a logo the CEO designed in Microsoft Paint 10 years ago.
* A web site is an extensible communications tool that needs regular care and feeding. It is not a one time event that can be forgotten once complete.
* You said "Show me a handful of sites that you’ve designed in our industry or a related business. This is a critical difference-maker." I disagree. When one understands web design and development well, the industry doesn't matter - the process is the same. It doesn't matter if the client is a restaurant or a manufacturer--asking good questions, and listening to the answers, will help us arrive at a quality outcome.

Jun 18, 2014 07:49 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

So true Ben - a tight and comprehensive design and development process can trump a lack of industry knowledge, but not every time. For instance, there are two projects we're working on now - one for a real estate company and another for a client in need of a product configurator, and if we didn't have experience with both, we probably never would have been entrusted with the business in the first place, plus the learning curve would have been so incredibly steep that it would have been the perfect time to say, "We just can't do that."

Best Regards,
Tom Marks

Jun 28, 2014 12:36 pm
 Posted by  AdrianneMachina

Ouch. Yes, it is truly painful to re-design a site so shortly after a website launch. I remember starting with a company 10 years ago, and the first order of business as their marketing director was to tell the owner his flash based blinky noise-making website (for a tech company) had to go ASAP. He went from proud to pained in the matter of a short conversation. Since then, as a marketing consultant, I've had to say the same thing to dozens of business owners over the years.

My perspective is a little different from yours. I create the marketing strategy and content, and collaborate with the web design company to deliver a full package. While web design experience is important, I see far too many "pretty" sites that don't serve the basic business needs. What I see people forget is:

1. WHO their ideal target audiences are (For example, I've seen doctors/techies dive into industry technical jargon - or even worse - just state obvious facts, instead of creating content for the person evaluating the purchase.

2. EASY ways for visitors to know what the next step should be and how to take it. (Free consultations are OK, but ideally there should be offers for every stage of the buyer's journey.) Often, there's no offer except a phone number.

3. Sites that are too complicated. Businesses NEED the ability to be able to easily update their own website. With Content Marketing becoming so central to being found online (search engine optimization), companies should not have to be tied to their web developer to make content changes. They should be able to at least update their blog, news, events and product / service offerings pages pretty easily.

Overall though, I totally agree. Web designers should walk away from projects they are not equipped to handle - or they could partner with a larger web development company. You take the big ones. They'll take the little ones. That can become a win-win relationship for everybody involved.

Adrianne Machina
Tornado Marketing

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About This Blog

Thomas Marks brings years of marketing experience to his blog "It's All About Content" as the President and Managing Partner of TMA+Peritus.  Prior to starting the agency in 1983, Tom was the VP of Marketing and Advertising for Bally Corporation in Chicago. He was also President of Bally's multi-million dollar in-house ad agency FFC Advertising.

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