Recently I met with a client regarding a website redesign we are doing for them. We are working on trying to streamline their content, make it more user friendly in the navigation, and be more client focused than it has been to date. The client, who happens to be the CEO of the company in this case, agrees in concept with all of these ideas, but the implementation of that in a way that he likes is not so simple. He wants “warmer,” he wants people to feel “drawn in” and he took us to a site he really likes and feels does that. As it turns out, that site had the opposite effect on me!
I was reminded that our own sense of what we like and don’t like is incredibly subjective, and that isn’t just our clients, it is also us as the experts. We can beat the drum about our perspective on what makes a good website and that is our job. Reality is though that we also have to be able to please our clients and have them feel really good about the layout and look of their site. We want them to be proud of their website and excited to tell people about it (and in turn about us of course!) and we want it to work for them.
As we look at what makes a good website, there is always this tension between form and function. Form is how it looks; the colors, the choices of images and text to draw customers in. Function is more the navigation, how things flow, how easy it is to move through the site and find what you are looking for. Finding a balance between those two is both an art and a science. As a leader in your organization, you are responsible for how the company presents itself to the public, so there are a lot of things to take into consideration. Web design probably isn’t your strong suit, or you would be doing something else with your career, so you have hired a firm to work with you on redesigning your website, and hopefully setting you up to be successful with marketing your website too.
As a marketer talking to a CEO I would suggest you think about three things in your website redesign:
What issue(s) are you trying to solve by having your site redesigned?
- Do you need more traffic and leads?
- Do you hate how it looks and you want something more professional?
- Do you need your website to become a key player in your marketing arsenal rather than a player riding the bench?
Understand what makes a good website and having clear goals for the new site will help your design team figure out which direction to take things. If you hate how it looks, for example, find several sites you really like to share with your designer so they have a sense of what is in your head. Just remember that a good company will push back if they see something that looks great, but might not work well to meet your goals.
Does your website design team know about marketing so they can set up your site for success?
I am assuming here that you actually do want your website to become a key player in your marketing and that when people come to the site you want them taking action. If that is a good assumption, then make sure your designer has more than the look and feel in mind. Does the design take into account what your customer is looking for when they find your site? Does it have places to put calls-to-action or key information that the customer can interact with?
Too many website designers don’t think about the laws of marketing when they are building a site. This can lead to great frustration once the site is rolled out. It takes both sides to truly know what makes a good website.
Make sure you really like what you see, but also trust your experts
As much as we might not like it as designers and marketers, the bottom line is that you have to be happy when you look at your website. No amount of convincing and cajoling from a designer will survive the reality that if you settle for something you don’t really like, or feel talked into, you won’t be happy in the long run. That isn’t good for any of us.
Having said that, there are times when you simply have to own that you hired an expert precisely because they know more about website design and what makes a good website than you do. There are times when you have to let the designer make decisions that are best for you and trust them. If you don’t trust them, then you probably have the wrong designer.
So…the happy tension exists. If you’d like us to help you learn about what makes a good website from both perspectives, give us a call for a free consultation and we can get to know one another a bit.