Your small business website: It’s not about what you like best.
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Over the years, I’ve worked with a wide variety of small service-based businesses. Before actually working with them, I would say that an average of about 80% of those businesses initially misunderstand the fact that their business website should not be created for them personally.
Investing in your website is not like shopping.
Every small business owner is concerned about their bottom line and there’s nothing wrong with that. One of the underlying goals for creating a custom website is to help boost your marketing and hopefully, that bottom line as well. However, I’ve noticed that when a client is treating this investment more like a retail shopping trip than marketing for their business, it can negatively impact how effective their website design turns out. How many times do you go shopping for yourself and buy something you don’t like? Not a lot, I’m guessing! Apply this logic to paying for web design and you start to see the problem. If it’s difficult to get around the notion of buying something for your business that doesn’t fit your own personal tastes, think of it as buying the perfect gift for your ideal customer or client. The key here is that your website is not really for you – it’s for your customers or clients.
The customer is always king. Unless they’re not actually the customer.
It’s true. Web designers are being paid by their clients (customers) to provide not only a finished product (the actual website) but the customized service that leads to that eventual product. Sure, a designer can produce exactly what a client says to produce (“Make my logo bigger…”, “Make each headline a different color…”, “I don’t like green…”, “I want a picture of my cat on the home page…”, “I always liked cowboys… can we add some sort of old western element…” etc. etc.) and make them the “king”. The bad news with this is that it’s not going to serve a client well when the website flops as a marketing tool, doesn’t meet any of the goals that were originally set, and doesn’t connect with the proper target audience. A great designer will be able to guide a client away from this sort of thing and keep them on track. Still, even the best designer (against better judgement and with much cajoling) has had to acquiesce to a client who absolutely demanded something specific and will not take no, or any explanation as to why the request might not be to their benefit, for an answer. The other, less favorable option would be to simply terminate the engagement because if the client becomes unresponsive to guidance, it’s more likely that the end product will not be a success for them (and some may even hold that against the designer).
I will say that while it’s not unheard of, there are occasions where a client is (or has been) part of their own target market. In this case, the client could actually offer valuable insight into the target market.
It’s not about what your spouse, partner, aunt, second cousin, friend, etc. likes best either.
I think when a client starts asking other people around them what they think of/if they like the website designs it uncovers another problem. It’s usually due to one or more of the following:
- Losing sight of the project goals.
- Lack of confidence or anxiety often stemming from not seeing something that they personally like and/or being afraid of getting it “wrong”.
- Not being confident in who their target audience really is.
- Not being invested in the design process or not setting aside time to provide proper feedback (in other words, pawning off feedback to other parties).
All this said, it shouldn’t dissuade you from actually liking your website. If you do, that’s an added bonus! During your website project, just be sure to put your target audience first. Make sure the site connects with them and meets your specific goals for your best chance at success.
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