Is Your Website Like A Car WIthout An Engine?
Building or updating a website can be like buying a car: You do some research, pick out a couple of styles and models that interest you, test drive them, and then go to a dealer. Once you have chosen the options you want, you negotiate for the best deal you can get, and order the car. After the car is built and delivered, the dealer hands you the keys. The same (general) process applies to website design and development.
But imagine if you got in your new car and discovered that it did not have an engine; or that the engine it had was not sufficient for what you planned to do with it. You’d be shocked, disappointed, and maybe even angry. You paid a lot for that car, and it’s not doing its job.
A website has about as many variations, features, and options as a car, and not knowing what to ask for – or not ask for – could provide very different results for the site and your business, not to mention very different costs. And if, like most business owners, you don’t know to ask for specific features, the developer may assume he/she knows what you want based on your discussions and give you a proposal based on what they believe you need, which could be a site that’s very different than what you had in mind.
When you create or update your website today, it should be more than an Internet calling card. It should provide some marketing benefit and a return on your investment. But you have to ask for the features you want and be strategic in planning it, or your website may not do what you want it to do – and it can end up costing more than you budgeted or deliver a lower ROI.
Different web developers may take different approaches and include different features as a standard. This makes the common practice of getting bids from three website developers and choosing the best one difficult – and just like comparing apples to oranges. Of course, that means that a comparison based upon price alone – which is never a good idea – is an even worse idea.
If you’re going to build a new website, it’s important to take these steps:
- Develop a strategy for what you want your website to do for your marketing program;
- Explain your goals for the website to anyone you ask for a proposal;
- Make sure you fully understand the features included in each proposal before comparing;
- Try to get the same features included in all proposals (for comparisons); and
- Make an apples-to-apples comparison before you decide.
If you’re not careful and you’re not sure how to design a site so you get what you need and expect, you may be better off bringing in someone who does. Otherwise your company’s new website may be as disappointing as that new car without an engine.