Custom Website 101: 5 Things Website Companies Don’t Want You to Know
When trying to launch your business’s online presence, few things are more important than a custom website. In the digital world, your website serves essentially the same function as your brick and mortar storefront. It may not necessarily be the first place people learn about your brand, but it is the one place where you have total control over your branding and messaging.
Because your website directly reflects on your business (as well as its products or services), ensuring that it looks professional and functions exactly like it should is an absolute must. In fact, 75 percent of customers admit that they judge a company’s credibility based on its web design.
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of business owners are not web design or development experts. This means turning the work over to a professional agency or freelancer. The thing is, there is more to building a custom website than choosing a URL and plopping a few images and text boxes in place.
If your website company isn’t a true industry expert, there are a few areas where they could end up cutting corners and hurting your business in the long run. With that in mind, here are some important website issues that most companies don’t want you to think about.
Table of Contents
1. Not All ‘Custom’ Websites Are Truly Customized
Like any other business, website companies often prize being efficient. Web platforms like WordPress and Wix have made it easier than ever for designers to get a website up and running, offering a variety of pre-built templates that they can choose from and then populate with a client’s content.
While this may get the job done quickly, the sad truth is that the client is not actually getting a custom website. What they’re getting is a template. True, it’s usually a template that looks good, but it’s also a template that is likely being used by thousands of others.
Sometimes, this can indirectly hurt your business prospects. If your website looks the same as your competitor’s, how will potential customers tell you apart?
Worse yet, the wrong template could get you mistaken for a spam site. As Devesh Sharma writes for SEOblog, “You might run into an issue with the template being frequently chosen for spam sites. For example, there are thousands of thin affiliate micro-sites available on the web, and there are some large tutorials on how to set them up.”
Continues Sharma, “Often, these tutorials will be laced with affiliate links themselves, for web hosting, for plugins, and for themes. If 10,000 people follow that guide and use the specific theme called out by the tutorial, that’s 10,000 low quality sites all using the same theme, likely with few if any customizations. If you then choose to use the same theme, regardless of the quality of your site, you might take a hit because you look like all these other sites that aren’t very good.”
A truly custom website will be built around the unique needs of your business. Avoiding pre-made templates will help you stand out when customers find you online.
2. Design Concepts and Code Don’t Always Work Together
Web design and web development are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are two very different things. Web design describes how the website looks — the things that make it visually appealing. Web development involves the coding that goes in on the back end. Though not visible to the user, it plays a significant role in their experience.
Some website companies only specialize in one or the other, and this can lead to unexpected deficiencies for your site. For example, a great design concept may not be able to be built as intended due to coding limitations, resulting in last-minute redesigns. Or, that stunning design could require bulky code that significantly slows down the site.
On the other hand, someone who is focused purely on web development could deliver a website that is functionally sound, but aesthetically bland. It works fine, but is not visually engaging enough to draw in your customers’ attention.
When selecting a website company, do your due diligence to make sure they give design and development equal weight so you can achieve the sweet spot of looks and functionality.
3. Great Copy Is Just as Important as Great Design
Many website designers understand how different elements of a web page should be placed so that they are visually appealing. But while an attractive layout with stunning images may do a good job of capturing someone’s attention, that isn’t what converts them into a paying customer.
Generally speaking, your website copy is going to do the heavy lifting in converting customers. Compelling copy tells customers why they would benefit from doing business with you — something that simply cannot be communicated by a nice design alone.
Even a small shift in your website copy can make a huge difference for your online revenue. In an A/B test from Unbounce, changing the headline — and no other elements — on a page increased website leads by 115 percent.
As important as website copy is, many website companies do not include copywriting as part of their services. Instead, they’ll ask that you submit text that you wrote yourself, or that you hire someone else to do the copy. If you’re no copywriting guru, this means potentially placing amateur-level text in a pro-level design — a strange contrast that will be especially jarring to your customers.
4. Conversion Should Be Your Website’s Main Goal
Sometimes, custom website designers can go a bit overboard on the “design” side of things, coming up with a look that is incredibly unique, but also doesn’t help you communicate your brand story or drive sales.
While having a unique website is definitely a good thing, you don’t want to invest in a design that’s so artsy or “out there” that it confuses customers, rather than convincing them to make a purchase. A layout that shares some similarities to what customers are used to seeing will be much easier to navigate. Compelling copy and streamlined menus, paired with attractive imagery, will go a long way in getting customers to spend more time on your site.
In reality, many of the most important conversion efforts for your custom website go on behind the scenes. Incorporating target keywords in your title tags and metadata will send the right signals to Google that will help you show up in relevant search results. Common development tasks like image compression will improve site speed, which further enhances usability and SEO rankings.
For best results, however, you must view your website as its own mini marketing funnel. Your home page and landing pages should have compelling calls to action that guide customers through the buying process. Your website company shouldn’t just promise that your website will look great — they should also bring the know-how to make it an integral part of the sales funnel.
5. A Website Requires Consistent Maintenance
Things change at a rapid pace online. If your website company is simply going to deliver a completed website and then ride off into the sunset, so to speak, they are doing you a disservice.
Google’s ranking algorithm is constantly changing. Web hosting is an ongoing investment to keep your URL active. Over time, different plugins and programs that keep your website running smoothly may need to be updated or replaced. Then there’s the matter of site security, which is especially important if you plan on processing customer payments directly on your website.
Throw in the fact that a successful website requires consistent content updates as part of maintaining a high Google search ranking, and it’s clear that your website can never be viewed as a “set it and forget it” part of your business.
A full-service website company should be there for you after the finished website has been delivered. Upgrades and maintenance may not always be time-consuming for someone who knows what they’re doing, but these ongoing actions can make all the difference for the user experience.
Avoiding broken links, security breaches or other performance issues requires ongoing effort. You want to work with someone who can provide the continuous support that is necessary to keep everything running properly and fix serious issues quickly when they come up.
Developing a Website That Delivers Real Results
While having a website that gives customers a basic overview of who you are, what you sell and how they can get in touch with you is a start, your custom website will only truly be successful if it directly contributes to leads and sales. A high-performing website will help you get more out of your marketing budget so you can speed ahead of the competition.
Don’t settle for a website company that will give you a slightly customized website template and call it a day. When you work with KAHA, you gain access to a full-service website team that can handle everything from design and copy to on-site SEO. With over 15 years of industry experience, we are confident in our ability to design a custom website that will truly grow your business.
Interested in a Custom Website for your business?
Let us help you develop and execute a comprehensive digital advertising strategy for your new website. Our services are competitively priced and produce meaningful results for businesses just like yours. Interested in learning more? Book your FREE strategy session ($1,000 value) today!