Friday, June 29, 2007

Do As I Say, Not As I Do: the Value of Web Site Design

Small business owners know how to save a buck. I haven’t met a small business owner yet who doesn’t make me explain the value that my writing services will bring to the bottom line. And that’s a good thing: it’s your livelihood and you should be mindful of where the money goes.

Add to that: most small business are so resourceful, competent and smart. They can—and do—wear many hats at once. From purchasing inventory to hanging the company sign to fixing the copy machine, no task or problem is too much for the entrepreneur to handle.

So when it comes to web sites, it’s understandable that business owners will be tempted to make their own. Several easy-to-use web site templates and web site development programs enable novices to get a decent-looking site up within a matter of only a few hours. Why not do it yourself?

The answer is: because someone else can do it better, and in this case, better is a better value.

In 2003, an e-commerce study revealed that:

65 percent of Internet users won’t patronize a poorly designed site—even that of a favorite brand—and 30 percent reported that Web site design is more important than a great product. Even rock-bottom prices only persuaded 4 percent to shop on a poorly designed Web site. What’s worse is that nearly 30 percent stop buying from their favorite offline store if their online experience is poor. (from, "the network for retailers online")

Do you want to risk losing 30% of your current customers or up to 65% of your prospective customers? I didn’t think so!

The adage “you have to spend money to make money,” applies in this case. Trust the experts and put them to work making the Internet work for you.

Professional web site designers and architects know many important things you don’t, such as:

  • how to ensure that your graphics are sized properly and load as quickly as possible on users’ machines;

  • how to scale your page design so it fills viewers’ screens;

  • how to display design (logo, buttons) and copy (product descriptions, instructions) elements so they guide users through your site; and

  • how to test different web browsers (Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Firefox) to make sure that your site appears attractive and correctly laid out on each.

Your web site designer can also explain to you why you might choose one company to register your domain name (registrar), another company to host your site (web host), and still another to connect to the World Wide Web (ISP, Internet Service Provider). They can help you maintain your site into the future, adding features as you grow and pointing out ways to maximize your Internet presence. The value they extend to you far exceeds the investment of cash needed to get them on board.

Yesterday I met with a colleague of mine, Andrea from Rareheron Web Design. We talked about the value of web design, the different maintenance programs available to people who want to update their own sites, and the nuts-and-bolts of Internet file transfer (FTP). I left excited, thinking about how much easier and affordable it is to have good web design and how much I wanted to help more small businesses improve their Internet presence.

But before I left, she asked, “You did your own site, didn’t you, Tara?”


Yes, I’m guilty of not following my own advice. I created my own web site and now my own blog. And it’s okay; you can be honest—you can tell, can’t you?

Of course you can; and that’s exactly why you should do as I say, not as I do.

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