The Value of a Professional Website
Let me ask you – if you were having problems with your teeth and one of them was causing serious pain and agony, would you self-diagnose what was wrong, get a drill, and put in your own filling or crown?
If you broke your leg, would you put on your own cast and hope it healed correctly? Would you decide to represent yourself facing a serious lawsuit in a court of law? If you said yes to any of these proposed scenarios, then this article is probably not for you!
In a world where so many things have become commodities, it seems like the cost of designing and building websites has become a commodity as well. Recent trends show a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs shop websites on price, and don’t want to pay professional rates. They also think they can do it themselves, when in all reality, they should focus on strategy and building their businesses, not spending hours and hours trying to figure out how to make a website that functions the way they want it function – not realizing that their $30 a month website is not capable of performing that particular function.
All websites are not created equal
The key point here is that all websites are not created equal, and comparing pricing from your friend or Cousin Joe who dabbles in building websites is often not an apples-to-apples comparison to the agency that builds websites on a professional level. Sometimes we all need professional help, especially when it comes to designing and developing the website we need for our business.
There are so many intricacies that go into making a killer website that an amateur website creator simply doesn’t understand. Website professionals spend years on their craft, constantly learning technology in a field that is rapidly moving. Anyone can go online and build a generic website. It can be pretty easy, but ease almost never equals quality and performance. The old cliché is always true: you get what you pay for. It’s best to have a professional build and maintain your website. Here’s why:
A website professional will improve your brand image, blending your brand into the design and functionality of your website. Every brand has a personality, a face and persona it presents to the world. That is your brand’s image. Your website should reflect your company’s core values and brand in order to maintain that image. For instance, if one of your core values is quality, your website should be of great quality. If you claim to have world-class customer service your website should reflect that with easy-to-find customer support numbers all over the website, online chat support, quick contact forms to fill out, and then the infrastructure behind it support it. If you have a video production company and boast that you produce videos that are sharp and enticing, yet your website shows just a few videos and they take forever to load, it clearly sends the wrong message to your potential clientele.
Having a cluttered and unappealing site sends the message that you don’t take yourself seriously. Outdated sites are easy to recognize, showing the world you don’t care about your online presence. Even worse, it tells the clientele you don’t value their time or their business. They will see your site, and aside from having a hard time finding what they need, they will have wasted their valuable time looking for it.
However, if your site is clean, crisp, convincing, and designed with the user experience in mind, they will find what they need and remember your company. If they remember your company when they need your services, that should result in money in your pocket. Additionally, they will be confident in your ability to handle what they need.
Professionals can handle all of the technical aspects of website design and development. When thinking of the technicalities of building and managing a site, it can seem overwhelming, even if you’ve dabbled in it. There are maintenance requirements, software updates, security measures to prevent hacking, and many other things that make your website work correctly. If one component is off, it can mess up your entire site.
One of these components are the images used on your site. It’s no secret that our society today is visually-driven. We don’t want to purchase something without first seeing what it is. The same goes for your site’s visitors. Regardless of whether your service is not tangible, such as legal services or business consultations, images are still a crucial part to an effective client experience. If the images you use are only sub-par, it sends the message to your clientele that your services are the same quality as your images. A website professional can advise you on image quality and make sure your images work well for your website, optimize them for web (yes, this is extremely important), and ensure that they don’t represent your business in a negative light or affect the load time of your website.
Speed has become critically important
If your visitor has to wait for your site to load, they may not wait at all. During the days of dial-up internet, we used to have to wait a few minutes for a site to load. Now, it’s easy to lose a visitor if they have to wait more than three to five seconds. A website professional can measure your site’s speed, use tools to find what is slowing your website down, and then make improvements to speed it up. Speed and load-time are now on Google’s list of requirements for SEO and search results.
Once a visitor is on your site, it is important that everything works properly, including any links. A broken link is a link that is not linked to an existing page or resource and results in an error page. While frustrating for a visitor (the visitor will most likely bounce off of your website at this point and go find another website), there is a deeper issue at hand. Broken links tell Google that your website is not well-maintained and results in lower search rankings.
Professionals will install Google Analytics and Google Search Console on your website. Professionals know Google Analytics is a free tool that should be a standard install on every website. These tools can help you improve the efficiency of your advertising dollars and help you to gain the customers you are looking for when used correctly.
Google Analytics is a specialized tool that provides tremendous and valuable insight into how your site is performing, how visitors find and use your site, as well as data that can help you make decisions on how to market your website and the products and services on it. We need more insights, not more data, so Analytics helps you get the right insights into customer behavior and habits in order to provide your target market with more engaging brand experiences.
When you spend your money on advertising, it used to be like throwing a net into the sea with the hope that you will catch at least something. Now, with tools like Google Analytics, you will be able to find out where your business’ investment is paying you back. It will tell you which advertising dollars are working and catching the fish you want to catch. Even more than that, Google Analytics contain tools that match up your messages with the right audience. Because Analytics proves whether your marketing is driving revenue, you will be able to set your marketing strategy, drive sales, and ultimately outperform the competition.
Google Search Console should go hand-in-hand with the Analytics tool. Search Console analyzes clicks from Google searches. So when someone is searching for a product or service you offer, it makes sure Google finds your site for the correct search terms. It will show you which terms have led your visitors there. This is then used to help you discover the most successful pages and products. In turn, you will be able to focus on those and create more traffic by eliminating those pages and products which may be costing you unnecessary dollars.
Search Console also helps maximize your site’s performance by reading your site and alerting you by email if there are any critical errors or issues. These are important to fix right away so that your visitors have a pleasant experience and are able to engage more with your brand.
Make sure Google Analytics and Google Search Console are set up and configured on your website.
Professionals will set up automatic backups for your website. This means you don’t have to worry about your website if it gets hacked or if you somehow break your site while trying to work on it. Even the most secure sites can be hacked if you’re not careful. Do you know how to fix your website if it is hacked? Website professionals will quickly and safely regain control of your site and restore it from the most recent backup. When a hacker gets into your site, it can be much more serious than them changing the theme or moving some commas around. They could make it route to an external site, litter it with advertisements, or simply make it disappear. Even more than that, your site can inadvertently distribute malicious code to your visitors…without you even knowing it.
According to Internet Live Stats, there are over 1 billion websites to date and more being added every second. Over 40,000 of those sites are hacked each day. The websites that are built and managed by professionals have a much lower risk of being hacked than if they were done by your friend who built one once. If you were sick and didn’t know how to help yourself, would you ask your neighbor who went to one semester of medical school if he could help? No, you would ask a doctor who has had the necessary training and knows how to help. Why, when it concerns your brand and your business, would you leave your website to anyone who doesn’t have the training?
“That’ll never happen to me!” you may say. The reality is that it can happen to any of us. The key is having a relationship with a professional website company to build your site and then helps to prevent attacks by using the latest security software and code updates. In the unfortunate event you website get hacked anyway, they will fix everything for you after an attack has occurred.
A professional website design agency can help you market your website to build your business. Websites are the hub and core of your digital presence online. They are a necessity, giving your business credibility and visibility in a primarily mobile world. With the 1 billion + websites out there that you are competing against, how are people who search the Internet going to find your website and engage with your business?
It all comes down to Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. SEO is about ensuring that your site has the ingredients search engines look for. When your website is optimized for search engines, it is easy for someone to find it. If you do well at it, your page just may garner top rankings and be one of the first in the results list.
Search engines have unique algorithms that turn the information from sites all over the web into search results. There are several ingredients that need to be aligned in order for your website to be optimized for search engines, which turns into higher rankings for your site. These ingredients are:
Words. Imagine that you make and sell handcrafted, leather sandals. Your website needs to contain the words that your potential customers will search for. In turn, the search engines will pick those out and display your site to the person looking for it.
Titles. This ingredient summarizes the entire page. It needs to be simple, yet detailed enough to tell your site’s visitor if this is the page they are looking for. They won’t want to waste time digging through the page to find out if they are in the right place to begin with.
Links. This is where some of us can get carried away. Links on a website are generally used to refer to another site. The more sites that link to your site, the better your search engine rankings. However, don’t fall into the trap that so many have. That trap is setting up fake websites in order to link to your site. Search engines are smart and will pick up on this kind of activity and it can affect your rankings and your business credibility.
Words in links. These matter more than we might think. Imagine again that you make and sell handcrafted, leather sandals. When your website says you have handcrafted, leather sandals (and the underlined portion is linked to where you sell them), search engines will associate your site with that item, creating better rankings for you.
Reputation. Your website gains a reputation either good or bad. It’s up to you. To get a good reputation and climb in search engine rankings, your site needs to consistently have new, quality content with credible links.
Being accessible and easily found is one of the best things you can do for your marketing efforts. Professionals know all about the ingredients your website needs in order to be accessible and easily found. Even better, they know how to do all of that while still maintaining credibility and a solid online reputation.
So why do you need a professional to build and maintain your site? They have vision. They have expertise, training and experience. With your goals and their understanding of the platform you use, you can make a killer website together.