A website can be a surprisingly complicated thing. When looking to hire a website design firm, one of the pieces you’ll want to have a clear idea of is whether you need a website design, or full website marketing. What’s the difference? In general, it is a matter of who is in the driver’s seat at various points in the process.
How to Know What Your Company Needs
- Have You Built a Website Before?
- Do You Have a Marketing Plan?
- Does Your Company Have a Brand Identity?
- Does Your Company Have an Existing Website?
- Do You Have an Internal Marketing Department?
If you answered No to most of these questions, it is likely that a marketing website approach is the right one for you, so that you can get the most from your investment in a website project. If you answered Yes to most of these, you will likely be fine with a more straightforward website design.
How Well Do You Know Your Own Marketing?
I’ve got a Marketing Plan
If you have a clear vision of your marketing, and your brand, and maybe even a marketing department, then a website designer is the way to go. A website design project primarily focuses on visuals and technical features, leaving much of the copy and imagery decisions in your hands.
This puts your organization in the lead for much of the project, making decisions about copy and appearance as they suit your existing marketing knowledge and needs. The website designer will have lead on the look, feel and technical aspects of the site.
I Don’t Have Time for My Own Marketing!
For many business owners, however, things are different. Often a business is too small to have its own marketing department, and a business owner is too busy to invest much time in marketing and message development. This is a situation where a website marketing approach can be helpful, both for the website and in many aspects of the overall business.
When taking on a full website marketing approach, the site’s design isn’t the first step of the process. The first thing on the list is an understanding of the company, what it provides, and who its customers are. From this understanding comes some branding basics, and the most important information visitors should learn, and what actions those visitors should take.
At this point, the website begins to come into focus: the layout of information, the design elements the site requires, and the overall look and feel that are appropriate for the website.
In a website marketing project, much of the time your website project is in the hands of the marketing group working on it. They will generally approach you when there are drafts to review of marketing copy and site designs.
Putting the Cart Before the Horse
Where this can break down is when a company requests a website design, but lacks a marketing plan. To many business owners, this project feels like something they should be able to take on – after all, you’ve run your business this entire time, so you know all about how to sell it, right?
The reality of online marketing is that the information and design concerns that go into making websites are different than the concerns that go into face to face sales and other aspects of running a business.
The result of projects like these can often be websites that are overwhelming to visitors, overloading them with information about what your company does, but not convincing them that your company is the right choice for them.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that your website will fail, but it may mean that your visitors don’t become customers as quickly or as often as you were hoping.