New site? There's no need to reinvent the web design wheel

I’ve recently come across two small business clients who have taken the advice of unscrupulous web designers and ended up with chronically poor web presences.
One site is so rubbish that the CMS has never worked properly. The other is as ugly as sin, the kind of thing an amateur would have designed in the very early days of the internet, really old fashioned looking. I was shocked and horrified, especially when I heard how much money they’d spent.
Both sites are embarrassingly amateur-looking, which does nothing to generate consumer trust and respect. The layout the CMS forces you to use is awful, with absolutely no graphic design expertise involved – as a Graphics graduate from Brighton college of art, I should know. And they’re both totally unfriendly as regards optimising content for search engines.  One site is so bad the ‘designer’ has obviously never heard of on-site SEO, let alone taken it into account.
Why does all this matter? In a hugely competitive landscape that’s only becoming more so, you need to tick all the web design boxes to stand a chance of business success.
The problem seems to be this: my clients went to designers in good faith, believing they needed a brand new solution for their ecommerce businesses. In fact it would have been cheaper, more efficient, effective and future proof to use a proven, popular off-the-shelf ecommerce solution like Joomla, Shopify or better still WordPress, originally just a blogging platform but now one of the best-in-breed for a vast range of commercial and personal circumstances.
If you’re thinking about getting someone to build a website for you, here are some things to consider.

4 things to think about when getting someone to build you a new website

  1. Does your web designer know anything about graphic design, or are they actually just coders with no formal understanding of the discipline?
  2. Do they understand the commercial imperatives that sit behind successful website design or are they just arty farty?
  3. Have they suggested an off-the-shelf CMS? If not, why not? Don’t be persuaded into a bespoke solution when an off-the-shelf CMS will do the job
  4. Do they intend to force you to come back whenever you want to change your site? If you use a popular CMS you stand much more chance of being able to amend it yourself than if someone designs you something weird and bespoke

The moral of the story is don’t accept less than the best. You need a web designer who can design like a dream and knows about digital marketing / on-site SEO. If they don’t know everything they need to know, find someone who does. It will probably cost more. But it’ll cost you less in the long run.

Here’s what any decent website designer will do for you

  • Design a beautiful, properly optimised, fast-loading, fully functional site using the most appropriate existing CMS
  • Set the CMS up and create your static pages
  • Bolt on a blog – a super-simple task if they’re using WordPress
  • Upload your copy and images into the pages (although you should be able to do it yourself)
  • Teach you the basics of how to use the CMS and hand over the login details

Can you design a website yourself?

Yes, if you know enough about graphic design, digital marketing and SEO to make a good job of it, and have the nous to drive the CMS yourself. Otherwise, leave it to an expert.

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