Beautiful looking websites are not always the best

In my opinion, many small businesses, and even many larger businesses, waste money on their websites. They do that because they get their priorities all wrong. Priority is almost always given to the look of the site. This is where most of the development cost goes. But beautiful design is not always best. Here’s why.

There are multiple components to a website. Design is one of them, but we also have content, page structure, and search engine performance and promotion.  Business owners are usually led to believe by web developers that they must have the best possible looking website. But this is not always the case.

The most important part of any website is the content. I agree that the look is important depending on the type of business. A company involved in design and image, an interior design company for example, does need to ensure that its website looks modern and stylish, but the image and, to a certain, extent the words that go into it, are what will make the site effective with prospective and current customers. But for some businesses, design and looks are not that important.

To illustrate my point, a few years ago I was asked to redesign a website for a company that made specialist bodies for trucks. The website that they had at the time was a joke. It looked awful. A mixture of fonts and erroneous alignment made it look as if it had been put together by a rank amateur, which it probably had. But that company got quite a lot of leads from it. Why?

The reason was the content. They had lots of pictures of trucks they had designed. Potential customers – trucking firms for example – didn’t really care about image they just wanted to see what the company could do. They could look at the site and say “I want one like that”.

The second most important part is promotion. It’s no use having a beautiful looking website with the most informative content if no one sees it. You have to get the site in front of prospective customers. There are, of course, many ways to do that, some more important than others depending on the business that the website is meant to promote: search engines, paid search, social media, networking, and many more.

These days, very little skill needed to build a credible looking website. WordPress, the ubiquitous content management/blogging platform, is free and is very easy to use. A decent looking website can be built almost “out of the box”. The real skill comes in knowing what to put in the website – the content, and then what to do with once it’s built – the promotion.

Too many people waste money focusing on the design at the expense of the content and promotion. And there are many web developers who are happy to, or don’t know any better than to, let them do that.

Don’t fall for into the image-is-everything trap for your website. Decide what you want the site to do. Then decide your priorities according to your budget, before you commit to spending any money.

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Written by
Mike Brogan
Mike is a website developer specializiing in website design, online marketing, ecommerce design, and consutancy. He has developed website for clients for over 20 years.

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