In the rush to close as many sales as possible, many freelancers and agencies will build anyone a website for any reason. And when you’re just starting out in this business, any paying customer is welcome. But eventually, when assessing how much of your creative and marketing energy to spend with a client, you will start to see that for some clients, spending money on a new website is not a great investment.
How much “honesty” we owe a potential client about their need for a particular service depends on a number of factors, but for our Fort Collins web design team, it starts with one simple fact: we spend a lot of our time and energy with each new client project we take on. Any designer with a concern about quality cannot escape this fact. You can’t crank out marketing solutions, even if you try.
But what do we infer from this? Essentially, you do not want to spend a lot of time and energy on a make-work project your client may not really need. Yes, we’re web marketers and web designers, but if you build a website for someone who doesn’t really need a new website, or has many other higher priorities, every minute of that project ends up being a grueling slog. If you are starved for clients, this may be a moot point, but if you have any luxury at all to choose your clients, you likely already know to choose very carefully.
OK, but doesn’t the title of this article say we’re going to talk about when not to have a website? Fair enough. We often have different audiences reading our posts. Some are web designers like us, and some are people looking for a new website, and wondering why a web design company might be telling them they don’t need a new website. Here are my top 3 reasons why you should not hire a freelancer to build you a new website:
1. You don’t have a budget for web marketing
This may sound snarky, but if you are just starting out and do not have money set aside for web marketing, a freelancer is going to seem pretty expensive as it is. But building a website is step 1 in a multi-step process of marketing a business. There will often be much more time and cost involved in making a new website successful. Once you are up and running, you need to consider how you rank compared to competitors. You may need additional analysis on your conversion process with a conversion rate expert. You may wish to simply drive traffic via Pay Per Click advertising, but it’s easy to spend money on traffic that never calls you and never buys your wares. In other words, there is a lot to know and a lot to do, downstream from your new website build and if you had no budget and no plan for this post-go-live period, you should reconsider any decision to throw money at a new site build.
2. You aren’t sure what your goals are
Of course, the goal is “build a site and get traffic”, but that’s not really a goal. A goal comes from understanding your market, your current situation, the size of the market, size of the opportunity, and many other factors. A real goal would be “increase web sales 20% within 6 months”, “achieve 5000 subscribers by 2020”, “improve ranking for ‘keyword Z’ from 6th place to 1st place in SERPs”.
Now we’re getting somewhere. It may have been obvious, but what those examples all had were measurable metrics. But it’s not as simple as dreaming up numbers like I did for this example. As a business owner, you will need to understand the size and scope of your markets and opportunities. You will need to understand the total lifetime value of your average client (otherwise, how might you know what you can justify spending to land a new client?) when making marketing decisions. You will want to understand how you currently rank in search engines for critical keywords, if you already have a website, otherwise how will you know you’ve improved the situation with a new website anyway?
But articulating measurable goals is something every small business owner must be able to do, before they consider hiring a website design expert. The old adage “what gets measured, gets done” comes to mind here. The inverse of that adage is true as well.
3. You have a decent website – you just want more sales / subscribers / visits
I get it. I’ve had that temptation more than once to scrap it all and start fresh. Especially when talking about websites and web marketing. Many of us build our first websites ourselves, and if you’ve had a taste of that process, and then it didn’t go well, you may be eager to abandon everything you’ve done.
But Google still ranks crummy sites, and if you have any keywords in play, even with a site where you aren’t sure how much SEO has been done, this is likely worth preserving, even if you do a full redesign. In many cases, unless the site is truly horrible, increasing sales or visits won’t come from prettier pages; it comes from driving the right organic traffic, through careful keyword and text content placement. In other words, you don’t need a new site – you need to optimize your existing site for conversions. Where are your visitors landing? What action are you asking them to take on that page? Why aren’t they taking that action?
These questions are where the rubber hits the road, so to speak, for many business owners. Going through an A/B/ testing process, for example, is something that can happen on an existing website in many cases; in some cases feeding critical data that can then be used on any existing content rework, as well as any subsequent, more dramatic site redesign if you ultimately go that route.
By working with our clients to assess the real-world web-marketing needs, we foster trust and partnership, so when the time comes to move ahead with an actual redesign, our collaboration is already second nature, and much better informed for the project moving forward.
If you are thinking about a new website, first ask, “Why”?
Bill lives and plays in Fort Collins, Colorado.
After a fulfilling career for a Fortune 50 company, Bill founded Colorado Web Design in 2012 with a passion for creative digital solutions for business.
Bill likes to manage a wide variety of projects and tasks for his clients in the digital space. The creative elements of website design, application design, and marketing are enough to keep anyone busy and engaged, but wiping the slate clean over and over at the start of new projects comes with its own challenges.
"I like to start with really good client communication sessions. The rest is easy if you get started in the right way."
He plays tennis, bikes, and hikes and then undoes all of that with too much delicious food and TV watching.
About Colorado Web Design
We've been building websites for Colorado businesses since 2002. We are a small team of dedicated individuals who love the challenge of each new marketing project. We live and play in northern Colorado.