Getting Value from your Web Design Agency


Earlier, I compared two redesigns of municipal websites.  One redesign project had a clear goal that translated into valuable website content and could be used to justify its higher price.  Keeping you focused on your goals is one of the most important values a web design agency can provide, but there are others, too.  I’ll expand on goals and other value in this posting.

What’s Important?

One of the most valuable services an agency can provide is advice on what’s important and what’s not.  Information on how to create a website is ubiquitous on the internet, often with conflicting advice.  Having a trusted partner to advise you about what is worth pursuing in technology and marketing can help you avoid spending time and money on work that isn’t going to advance your goals.  Sure you could find this information yourself, but how do you know who to trust?  And do you really have time to become an internet expert?

Focus on Goals

internet marketing goals

I have a client who regularly phones me with the latest great idea – “Let’s put this widget on the home page”, “Can we feature my friend’s business since he’s at a trade show this week?”  I gently remind him about his goals.  Will the widget get people into his stores?  If so, then we go for it.  If it’s just going to make him feel good, then we brainstorm about what we can offer to effectively engage current and prospective customers anew.

A good web design agency can help you define or refine your goals, if necessary.  Then when decisions are necessary during the redesign project, one of the key considerations should be “Does doing this help or hurt the ability of the website to meet its goals?”  Ideally, your agency will see this as an opportunity to explore why this is important to you and how those aspects can be incorporated into the project in a way that furthers your goals.

Your Ideal Customer

Your agency is likely to talk about your target audience and your ideal customer.  Who is this person?  What do they like about your business or organization?  How do they shop for your products or services?  How long does it take them to buy?  What can you offer to educate them, to help them make an informed purchase – and to purchase from you?

Your Unique Value

computer crash

That leads to the question of why your customers purchase from you instead of your competitors.  Maybe you answer the phone on the weekend. Maybe you have a track record of making your clients money. Maybe your product just looks fabulous.

My clients often start out our discussion about unique value with generalities, but once they start talking about their business, I’m frequently delighted to hear their stories – like the time a car crashed through their client’s front showroom window and took out a computer server, which they replaced the same day.

Website Content Best Practices

Content is not only the most important aspect of a successful website, but it’s also the hardest for clients to complete by themselves.  With the abundance of content on the internet and the ascendency of search engines in ranking and findability, it is becoming increasingly important – and challenging – to regularly publish quality content.

A good web design agency will help you identify keywords that your prospective customers will use to find you using search engines, then they will guide you in creating content containing these keywords in all the right places – or they may even create this content for you.  Your agency can suggest creative content ideas based on their wealth of experience to help you better serve your customers.  They can work with you to organize content for various kinds of customers at different stages of the buying process, suggest the format and frequency of content updates, advise you on non-text content such as videos and photos, and help you repurpose content for social media and blog postings.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) includes keyword identification and creating keyword-rich content as mentioned above, but it also includes technical aspects such as creating search-engine specific code (meta tags), avoiding duplicate content, and preserving assets such as page rank and inbound links. These are critically important aspects of website redesign that you may want to trust to your web design agency.

Layout, Design, Usability

Creating an effective website requires attention to how content is arranged, to placing emphasis on important content, to usability and to aesthetic appeal.  Many website owners view this as the primary value offered by web design agencies, and it is important – after all, you only have seconds for a site visitor to decide if your website has what they’re looking for.  But without the foundation of goals and content, a great-looking site is unlikely to perform as well as it could and may actually hurt you.

You may want to rethink a redesign that dramatically changes the entire look and feel of your website, unless your current site is truly awful.  Website visitors who are accustomed to using your current site can become confused and have trouble finding information and completing tasks after a total redesign, and may decide to go elsewhere instead of struggling with the new site.  You may be able to accomplish your goals more effectively with small, gradual changes over time.

Metrics: More Visits, More Leads, More Customers

If your goal is to gather leads to transform into customers, your web design agency may suggest methods to gather visitor information ethically.  With the resulting contact information for your new leads, you can follow up with helpful offers such as a subscription to an informational email newsletter, a whitepaper, a coupon, or a free assessment.

How will you know if your website is meeting its goals?  Evaluating the number of visitors who sign up for your offers, read your blog, call you on the phone or visit your website in a month can help you determine the effectiveness of your website and online marketing.

hubspot metrics

Manually tracking this information can take time, and you may not have the skills to analyze and identify worthwhile improvements based on the analysis.  A web design agency can offer more than a link to a statistics report at the end of the project.  Your agency may offer analysis and ongoing advice, and automated tools are available to pull together various aspects of online marketing.

The Bottom Line – ROI

With a great website redesign as a foundation, regular publishing of fresh website content, regular metrics evaluation and an ongoing focus on goals, small website improvements over time will help you maximize your website’s return on investment.

Although the most important measure of the value of any website is its effectiveness in helping you reach your goals, there are specific keys to a good website – and to a redesign that is worthwhile.