Junk gathers dust.
Web designers are in the business of selling web designs. That is the first principle of business for a web design firm, as it is for many other types of businesses. There is nothing new here except that the whole purpose is to create business for the owner, and a site just gathering dust does not do that.
No one says that a web design needs to create direct sales for any business, but it must connect with the business owner’s market and engage it. If the site doesn’t connect with the market, it is just junk collecting dust. It may be a beautiful piece of work, but it’s still collecting dust.
Part of this problem is our responsibility as small business owners. We didn’t go to a web designer and say, “I need a website designed for my web market.” Instead, most small business owners say, “I need a website designed for my business.”
Our market doesn’t care about us.
The difference is about the focus our words create and the intent that gives to a project. And when the focus is on our business, it is not on our market. Thus, we end up with something we are thrilled with even though our market is not impressed and doesn’t care.
What our market cares about is their problem, not the looks of our web site. They will not share our website with others because it looks cool, but they will share when our business website helps them and educates them about our industry and how to make the best choice for their needs.
Are we being educated on our marketing options?
The chances are that our web designer doesn’t really want to go there. Instead, they jump right in to giving us a good look at their portfolio and suggesting how they could customize and come up with something totally original for us.
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And our fault is that we go for this – not knowing any better. But it’s not really our fault. We go to experts to get the best information, and all too often, we are talking to a professional with a conflict of interest. This is where the web designer is advising us about the very product they sell. We may never get clear information about what all our choices are.
If the conversations never touch on the low cost of “Pull Marketing” or any cost, we are not getting all the available choices. If the conversations never discuss the differences between a demographic market and a virtual market, then we do not see our real needs.
If the conversations never get around to discussing how to define a marketing profile for our web market (not just guessing about our virtual market), then we are not getting to use the best of what a website can offer our business.
And there are more if’s that the web design industry does not talk about. Web designers don’t talk about our market other than to ask us to describe them. It is so much easier for them to design something for us. So most small business owners end up with a beautiful site headed for the scrap pile from day one.
To design for our web market, a design firm would need to know how to discover things about our virtual market that even we don’t know. They would need to know about virtual markets and why they are different. Web designers need to know our market’s shopping habits, what our market values the most, and which values we have in common with our market. But web designers, trendy or not, don’t give us any of this.
The solution is in market segmentation.
This is just another term for psycho-graphics. Segmentation divides a whole geographical or national market into 7 segments. Each has a psychological profile that describes the segment’s shopping habits, values, likes & dislikes, and general beliefs. These are better tools to work with on the web.
We could also stand back from our own business and ask that business a few questions to discover things about the market it serves.
- Doesn’t our business provide solutions for a market?
- Doesn’t our experience include the pain and distress our market feels?
- Can we name our market’s biggest problem?
Once we have put words to the solutions we provide and for who we provide them for, we are well on our way toward knowing who our website should be designed for. We do not have to accept trendy web designs that have no appeal to our market. These sit and gather dust. We want a site that engages our market, and this means engaging our market. Read that last line again. It’s like saying, “If nothing changes… then nothing changes.”
If our website doesn’t engage our market, it’s just junk.
No matter how beautiful and pleasing it is to our eyes. And it is our job to make sure that our web designer will think about our market and what would be best for our market, but we shouldn’t really expect this to happen. This is because we are more about our business than we do, but we need to stop listening to the professionals who only think about us.
A professional web designer may not deserve all the blame for the junk website, except that they are the self-proclaimed experts, and they expect that we will listen to them. Therefore, the first rule of hiring a web professional is not to let them design our website.