Choosing a good website developer‘Authentic Brand Value’: Determined when the quality of the result proves more valuable than the ‘value’ of the dollar spent having it built.

A few months ago a friend of mine whom I met through our love of golf mentioned that she was very disappointed in her business’ progression and lack of website traffic. She had had high expectations of the website she contracted experts to build and paid an extraordinary amount to do so. Unfortunately it was built without much foresight for the future and thus some components are now mute, outdated, and do not function well with new technology. Since her website went live she still has no access to update anything herself, and this means any change requires her to pay by the hour for the developers to update on her behalf. A gut-wrenching example of this is a recent charge for 2 hours work (approximately $230 value) just to add a link to one of the pages. What a painful lesson for her to go through.

As you already know your website is by far one of the most essential online branding tools your business can own. It is also one of the most important key components to establishing your brand whether it professional, corporate, personal or a combination of the aforementioned. Your website acts as a window to your brand’s soul and therefore must not only be fully aligned with your purpose, but also be fully aligned with your brand’s distinguishing features, personality, and authentic voice. How well this is incorporated into your design will determine its future prosperity and in turn your own.

As a specialist in the field of Authentic Branding for almost 20 years I have had my share of clients who have made unfortunate decisions when starting out in business and websites. Generally these choices were based on a lack of knowledge, and believing that something, anything, is good enough as long as a website is on the internet to be found.

‘Build it and they will come’ – This no longer works, unless you build something pretty fabulous and launch it with quality integration marketing. ‘As long as I have a website up, no matter how it looks, then I will be viewed as credible and therefore a good choice’. Wrong!

How it looks will make ALL the difference, as does having the right components in place. Static, uncharismatic, copycat (same layout or template being used), bland web designs still work – Boring! Often do not and will not attract return visitors. Bounce rates are usually much higher than average too. Website’s do not need all those fancy things that you read about – Actually your website will hardly be found without things like SEO, regular content blogging, social media integration, RSS feeds, analytics integration, etc. and it certainly won’t be memorable without authentic branding in the design, colours, words, personality; each in harmony with your logo and voice.

Here are a few quick truths about websites in today’s market (based on the most recent shifts and changes).

  1. Audiences challenge us to get ‘real’ with them, showing our true colours so-to-speak. We can no longer hide behind just a brand name in the hope it will speak for itself.
  2. Audiences want to engage with ‘us’, the face behind the name (or faces in multi-person businesses).
  3. Audiences want ‘us’ to show them why they should stay, what value do we bring to their table and why we are the best choice for them.
  4. Audiences make their first assumptions the moment they encounter your brand for the first time whether that is via your website, social platform, or some other medium.

In my experience, with many startup and small businesses on low budgets, more often than not the choice is to get a website up with as little out-of-pocket expense possible, hoping that if it is simply in existence it will bring forth the leads needed for success and they can build it up from there. Unfortunately the majority of those who walked that path experienced a costly lesson; having to face the decision to spend more money to fix their website only a few months later. Consider for a moment would you remember the title of an unknown author’s book if the jacket cover was nothing more than brown paper, let alone return to purchase it at a later date?

At the end of the day how you ‘present yourself’, from day one, actually does matter because anything you have to say won’t be heard (read) until after the initial attraction phase has passed. We now see an array of quality, engaging, websites being spread across our browsers; each one telling its own story the moment you land on it. Each one serves as competition for another depending on the industry it is marketed toward. Your website acts as a window to your business’ soul; you not only want to encourage them to look but to walk through every door discovering more about what you have to offer them and how important you are to their life, their business, their dreams.

So who do you entrust your highly important website to and how much should it really cost you to begin with?

  1. Shop around, do your research and put together a list of all the things you want to see your website do. Add any ‘fancy’ features you see on other sites that you would like to mimic on your own and functionality that deem important for your branding, marketing and networking. It is all important to have in place to begin with.
  2. Make sure you get a quote for EXACTLY what will be included and can be managed by the web developer you have approached.
  3. Ask questions to get a genuine understanding of the depth of knowledge and skills your proposed web developer can offer. This is integral. Why? Because there are many, many, so-called experts and gurus in this field who ‘speak without accurate knowledge or skills’. Some know how to include the basics only cannot tell you how to use it effectively; and what use is that to you if you have something you cannot use.
  4. Make sure the quote outlines additional prices for ongoing work by the hour, and states that each addition or change will be quote in writing in advance. This will ensure you are aware of any changes to their fees, and what it will cost upfront at all times.
  5. Ask about your ability to access, training, updates, blog management and the like.

My acquaintance did not ask these questions and as such got duped out of over $40,000 for a brand development that claimed to give her the best and most elite website, yet they could not help her with something as integral as SEO. Her site does not show up in search results for the things it should, let alone on page one, and without any guidance instructed her to put together her own SEO elements and tags and they would then add it to her website pages. She was not offered any training, or instruction or information on ‘How’ to approach the design of correct SEO structures or assisted with the advanced research required for SEO to benefit her website the way she understood it should. Now her site must be rebuilt, only this time she is asking all the right questions so she gets exactly what she is paying for.

By applying these important factors you could be saving yourself a lot of money that could be better used elsewhere in your business. By eliminating having to rebuild your website shortly after its debut you can be increasing your ability to succeed exponentially. Avoid the costs of re-launching your refurbished website to the masses, yes the ones who were bored by the first attempt and avoid having to spend even more money getting your audience interested in you again.

Should you choose to not bother re-launching, re-marketing, and re-announcing the new website in the hope that now it is better it will draw them in on its own merit as time goes by you might be subjecting yourself to a slow website traffic recovery, yet perhaps you resign yourself to the possibility that this is how it should be.

Now what if, just perhaps, you invested in the initial outlay more thoughtfully to begin with and as a direct result you save thousands of dollars, needless stress and anxiety, and time spent trying to figure out what is wrong. You find yourself and your business establishing success much quicker, new leads are easily created and your website functions exactly as it should, as you had expected it to, to begin with.

That sounds more like how you would like the outcome to be doesn’t it? Website developments can cost as little as FREE all the way up to the 10’s of thousands. How much you invest in your website’s development is entirely based on the skills, technology and design you want built for your brand. Do your research, choose carefully, make lists of what you do and don’t want, and make sure at the end of the day you get a website that not only EXISTS, yet actually SUCCEEDS at being found EASILY, proudly stands as a statement for your Brand, and engages all that visit from the FIRST impression. You will be saving yourself a lot of nail biting, hair pulling, inactive, days and nights simply by applying the above principles to your website development strategy right now.

Good luck and all the best with your website, and ultimately your Brand’s future successes