There is more to building a website than you may originally appreciate.
There are many skill sets that are needed if you wanted to create the ‘perfect’ site.
But what exactly is a perfect site? It really depends on your type of business and what you want your website to do.
For most of us, regardless of business, we want our website to generate new business. That means, we want it to be seen by new potential customers and we want them to contact us or buy from our website.
For that to happen, there needs to be much planning in two key areas.
Traffic and conversion.
You need to understand wow will new potential customers see your website (traffic) and how will you convert them to an enquiry or sale (conversion).
You can’t build a website and expect people to see it, then contact you without putting a traffic and conversion plan into action. It just doesn’t happen.
Why? Because online is a very competitive space. You are competing with many many other websites.
When you are just starting out and doing a lot of face to face networking, you will be having sales conversions without really using your website. But as your business grows, you will rely more and more on your website to create enquires for you.
When you need to scale your business or you want to reduce your face to face networking, then it’s time to build a marketing website.
The different skills needed to build a high performing, marketing website
Digital marketing strategy
So the first skill you need to learn or find is ‘Digital marketing strategy’. How will you find and convert visitors to enquiries and sales?
To answer this you need to know a lot about your ideal customer, their buying journey and how you can use sales marketing funnels to attract and convert them to customers.
A copy writer
Once you know how you will attract and convert visitors you need to write the copy that will do just that.
It’s copy that converts not design. Bad design and bad copy will have a negative effect on your website but bad design and good copy will still convert some visitors so prioritise copy over design if your budget is tight.
A branding expert
Next on the list is a branding expert. If you want to pay for design, start with a branding expert who can guide your design to strengthen your brand. But, you need to have a clear understanding of your brand or you need to get extra help from your branding expert. A branding expert should be able to help you find your brand voice, it’s not just about colours and logo. Here is a good article about what branding is.
A graphic designer
Once you are clear on your branding, a graphic designer should be able to bring your brand to life by designing neat elements for your website like headers, borders, icons and buttons.
Once you are clear on your branding, a photographer who specialises in branding photography can also bring your brand to life online with well thought out photography.
A traffic specialist
Once you know your marketing strategy you will need to hire a specialist who can drive the traffic from the source you have identified. This could be an SEO expert, Facebook ads or Google ads expert or email marketing expert. Who you hire depends on your strategy.
A technical expert
A technical expert will help you physically build your pages. They can make sure there are no errors and your pages load fast. This is different to an assistant who may not have the technical knowledge to fix problems and optimise pages to get the best technical performance.
A conversion rate optimiser
Once you have traffic going to sales pages or lead generation pages, you should be looking to increase the conversion rate of those pages i.e getting more people to take action). This is a specific skillset that relies heavily on data analysis.
Who actually builds your website?
Different people will actually build your website depending on how much you are paying.
Low end. The freelancer. If you opt for a cheap, low end website then it is highly likely that one person is responsible for the whole website. From strategy, to design, SEO and building.
I know from personal experience how hard this is to pull off. I know this because it’s where I have been. And, in all honesty, it’s impossible to be excellent in all areas. The area I couldn’t provide was copy, photography and graphic design. I’m excellent at strategy, SEO, technical build and conversion rate optimisation.
If you are going for a freelancer, you must ask where their strengths lie. Get a good idea of what skills are missing. I did no graphic design but I was able to still create professional looking websites that were technically solid.
Mid range. A freelancer with a small team of other freelancers. Sometimes freelancers bring on board other freelancers when the project requires it. This can be a good way of getting a variety of skills on your project at a cheaper price.
Top end. A design agency. If you a planning to use an agency you will have a few people building your website. That’s why it costs so much. You get a good range of skills and experience. Make sure they have marketing expertise on the team or you could just be paying for expensive design.
There are a lot of graphic designers who build WordPress websites and they are not technically good. This ends up with awful SEO that harms your rankings, slow loading websites and a load of security flaws that put your site and online reputation at risk. I’ve seen this many times unfortunately.
Problems with a web designer building your WordPress website
Hopefully by now we’ve established that a web designers role is completely different to a technical expert. If you let a web designer build your website there are lots of technical and SEO mistakes they can make without realising it.
Web designers might not optimise your images. They upload very large images which slows down your site. People hate slow loading sites, as do search engines. See my article on how to optimise images for the web if you think images are slowing down your website.
Web designers may use ‘process heavy’ designs and features that are expensive to integrate and serve no purpose for your visitor. Examples of this are sliders. It may take your designer a few hours to implement a slider. Research has shown that sliders slow down your site and no one looks past the first slide anyway.
Other process heavy features include adding background video or fancy hover effects (when you put your mouse over an area on a web page). These fancy design features slow your site down and are just not needed.
Many people access websites via mobile phone now. your web design needs to look good on mobile, not just on a desk top. Design needs to be simplified for it to work on mobile. If you have an overly complicated, fancy design, it just might not work on a mobile device.
They won’t know how to pick the best plugins for your site.
They may go overboard and add lots of plugins to make your website look fancy.
Problems if a technical expert builds your website
If you let someone who is technically strong but has no other skills build your website then your website may look similar to other websites because there are no unique graphic elements. There may be some colour clashing or cluttering of the design.
But, your website will be error free, look great on all devices and load fast.
The builder will have selected the best plugins and technical set up so you don’t have many plugins to maintain and the ones you do have will be reliable and trustworthy.
Marketers, writers and photographers generally don’t build websites
Marketers usually improve websites. They strengthen the messaging, the calls to action and the sales copy.
Writers can improve some of the writing but unless they are trained in sales copywriting they won’t be able to improve conversions on your website.
Photographers can improve the overall branding of your website by providing unique photography.
Ideally, who should build your website?
If you have the budget, you want a digital marketer to manage the build of your website. They can pull together a team according to your needs.
If this is not possible, then get a good technical website builder who also have some design skills. Just look at their portfolio to get a feel for their design.
As a last resort use a designer who has no technical skills. You may have to improve your own technical skills to fix the errors your web designer leaves behind.