7 Things Your Website Developer Won’t Tell You

pruneau
Paul Pruneau President, Teamworks Communications, Inc.

Posted on September 15th 2013

7 Things Your Website Developer Won’t Tell You

 

7 things your website developer won’t tell you

Full disclosure: A successful website is not just about software code.

Considering a new website for your business? If you’re relying on just a website developer, it could be anything but smooth sailing ahead.

Before you start down the wrong (or least expensive) path, it might be reasonable to consider a few essential objectives for your website.

For example, if you want prospects to really understand what you do, the value you provide and how you do it, your website’s going to have to do a lot more than just be pretty with functioning links.

1. CMS, Javascript, HTML, Platforms & Plugins aren’t the priority.

Business goals should drive your website design. A modern website should help you:

  • Attract more site traffic and visitors
  • Convert prospects into leads
  • Nurture leads into customers
  • Measure the effectiveness of your efforts

Like it or not, you’re only going to accomplish this essential strategy through a structured website development process coupled with a consistent, tailored content creation program.

2. Forget build, launch and host.

A simple search online will reveal thousands of options and resources for creating a website. But the website “thing” is simply not enough today. More than ever, you need to consider your approach to all of the required components of an “online hub” for marketing. This should include how you will:

  • Present the value that you offer to your target customers (Your Unique Selling Proposition)
  • Enable rapid content creation & distribution in virtually any media (Content Management System)
  • Provide customer interaction (Social Media & Blog Commenting)
  • Optimize all content to be found with focused keywords (SEO)
  • Facilitate thought leadership (Blog & Structured Content Marketing Plan)
  • Support community building, connecting, influencing and sharing (RSS/email)
  • Build and differentiate your brand = All of the above

3. Don’t let your brand value can get lost in the code.

Let’s be honest. Writing code in command line syntax is a far cry from developing a clear, differentiated and compelling expression of why your customers should consider you instead of your competitors.

And it’s reasonable to ask if a web developer is the right resource to guide you through a structured brand positioning process to define and document:

  • a relevant and compelling summary of the value you offer
  • a concise expression of the primary reason a prospect should consider you
  • an authentic message grounded in a specific target benefit that can be “owned” in your marketplace
  • a foundation for all website and communications messaging including: online, traditional, and social

Without agreement and alignment of all parties on this essential marketing element, what will your web developer create code for?

4. Embrace continual publishing.

Your website is not a one time event. Set-it and forget-it is so history. It’s now about how you’re going to address forever.

If you want to succeed with online marketing today, you need to become a YOUTILITY to your prospects and customers. As a continuous provider of education, insights and entertaining content that will aid your prospects and customers in helping them find, choose and use your product or service, a YOUTILITY can become the trusted online destinations that attracts visitors and keep them coming back.

Step back for a moment and look around. If you haven’t noticed, traditional ad messages are ignored, dismissed or worse, blocked online. Marketing automation experts, Marketo, have documented that 50-90% of sale is made before a prospect ever talks to salesperson.

In an environment like that, it’s time to align your marketing efforts with the shift in how people discover, share and act on content, resources and value. Today, that’s being done in 3 ways:

  • Search—think Google, Bing & Yahoo
  • Sharing—via social platforms (Pinterest, Facebook, SlideShare, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
  • Subscribing—self selecting to receive content via email or RSS

To align your online marketing activities in this “post advertising era”, a consistent Content Marketing program will be required to succeed.

Still not convinced you need to do this?

  • 46% of daily Internet searches start with research on products or services | source: Google
  • Companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t | source: Hubspot
  • The more optimized pages you have in your website, you improve the chance of getting found and ranking high in search results | source: Hubspot
  • Organizations that blog have +90% more inbound links than those that don’t | source: Optify
  • Delivering high-quality, relevant & valuable content to prospects & customers drives engagement, action & revenue | source: CMI (Content Marketing Institute)
  • Consistently creating great content is the key to getting inbound links and there’s is just no substitute | source: SEOMoz

5. Things change. And you will too.

As you start to embrace the idea of forever, you also need to get comfortable with change. Because all of the disparate, connected and essential technologies required to develop and deploy an online marketing hub (your website) are going to change. Probably a lot faster than you think.

So, before you box yourself into a proprietary or custom technology solution that can’t or won’t change, keeping your options open might be a better course. Look for and choose solutions that are supported with a deep bench of talented, global resources that keep refining, improving and enhancing the technical foundations of your website. Chances are that these options will extend the longevity of your website and make transitions to new or emerging improvements easier and less expensive.

Last century thinking could cause an inconvenient, expensive and unnecessary stumble.

6. Stop thinking about the website. Start developing a relationship.

Who should you turn to to address all of this on your journey to your new web site? And once you arrive, who will ensure that the continual content creation efforts required for online success today will be effective, efficient and engaging to deliver the results your looking for? The list of potential providers could include:

  • Web Developer
  • Branding, Positioning & Messaging Strategist
  • Content Writer | Editor
  • Marketing Communications Expert
  • Social and New Media Platform Counselor
  • Online Marketing Consultant
  • Lead Generation Producer | Manager
  • Ongoing Content Creation & Content Marketing Partner
  • Graphic Designer
  • All of the above

Consider the depth and or limitations of just a web developer or any one of these single resources. The wrong choice can have many unforeseen consequences on how long it will take and how much your website will actually cost.

Rather than trying to corral all of these vertical providers with their own agendas and siloed perspectives, turning to someone with a proven track record of integrating each of these disciplines to achieve the outcome sought by a customer might be a better path to take.

7. Your online brochure: RIP.

Without a robust online hub designed and built to address all of the requirements of online marketing today, success is questionable. Anything less than addressing today’s customer preferences and the dramatic shift that has taken place in marketing is just pretending. And it’s reasonable to question if alternatives will deliver meaningful, long-term business value.

Success in addressing this challenging process require proven expertise, a qualified resource, the right software and a commitment for the long term.

Don’t address these critical issues and embrace obsolescence because you website investment will quickly become irrelevant. Or worse, you can let your competitors establish a consistent thought leadership role in your domain of expertise while your SERP (search engine results position) never get to page one.

So how does your site measure up?

Did you recently finish a new website? Considering a makeover? Was your site redo a success? Did you choose the wrong resource to guide you through the process. Or did you overlook some or all of the requirements outlined above? We’d love to hear your first person experience. Please share.

 

pruneau

Paul Pruneau

President, Teamworks Communications, Inc.

As founder and president of TeamworksCom, (Teamworks Communications, Inc.), Paul Pruneau develops brand strategy and creates content to express customer value with integrated online and content marketing solutions to help businesses succeed. To learn more about Paul and TeamworksCom, just visit his blog, follow him on Twitter, or connect on Google+ or LinkedIn.

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Comments

Embrace content management systems and focus on great content. 

Great Article Paul...I Needed to see this. It has been a while since I have been in transition and it re-itterated all the points I remember focusing on before. When I built Daily GEMS, the idea seemed to naturally encapsulate ALL of the required elements for success of business...except the money coming in. I was new to SM ans Wordpress, going to all the meet-ups I could learning staying up late nights, but really worth all the work having Daily GEMS to work with has been a dream. 

My focus is now to really focus on ALL of the aspects individually and strengthen them, especiall subscriber vs. traffic and charging businesses for my Daily GEM videos, since I have proven the worth and getting good at it. If fact I would say that I am getting very proficient at all the areas of Marketing and Design, and running the business...and with help of this article has made me realize that I just might be one of the up and comming top strategists and advisors going at the rate that I am going. Thanks.

Keep up the great tips and all the best.

Jarvis

Our website aims for simplicity yet well-structured formatting of layouts and navigations that can properly be understood by visitors, we make sure that it is people-oriented and we make sure it is always updated when there are new offerings, events and news regarding our business. It can only take less than a second for people to lose interest in your site, so first impression is important. Thanks for the advice, Paul!

Thanks for your comment Ava.

I agree that first impressions matter.

I would only add that without a structured process and the right resources to address all of the requirements outlined in this article, you'll never have the chance to make the right first impression.

Best to you.

A simple website design shouldn’t be a daunting all-or-nothing ordeal – you can simplify your design by taking small steps. Simple tasks like putting the focus only on the essential elements of your website and getting rid of the unnecessary.

By far the best comment here! Not to say others are bad, but what Barbara is saying should've been the heart and soul of this article, and isn't.

The article is clearly addressed to small business owners, as people with larger budgets are never going to contract just "a developer". Am I wrong?

The SMB niche is profitable, and freelance developers and designers, as well as small web dev agencies, can tackle it with success, by doing exactly what Barbara says: work on small chunks, in an iterative process. Most of the time, devs that work for this type of clients are keenly aware of all the points you've touched on in your article, and will push their clients in considering them. And their process will be an iterative one, easy to manage and easy to swallow for a small client.

So yes, your title is misleading and I believe you don't stick to your target audience. Look at point 6. A SMB or someone just starting out (in the online space or in general) will not be able to consider that list. A "developer" is all they will be able to afford.

Excellent article - only surprised there is no mention of SEO. Without it none of the other stuff will bring results. http://bit.ly/14El9UU

Excellent article and I agree totally. SEO is equally important particularly when the article is posted on "socialmediatoday."  Surprised there was a general mention but no specific SEO topic as a separate tip.

Jeffri,

 

Thanks so much for your comment. 

You are 100% correct. SEO was an unintentional oversight but an essential component to website success.

As you know, creating content without good SEO practices will yield nothing because no one will find the expensive assets that are created.

Thanks for keeping me and everyone else on course.

Best to you.

Good article Paul!  I like the practical goal orientated approach to this.  I'm a marketer and my clients want a website that performs tasks (the inbound content, traffic, leads, nuture and measure mantra) - so we advocate building simple websites that do that job really well - I call it build the function first and let the design follow. Cheers! 

Hi Paul

Really nice to see an article written really well encapsulating exactly what should be happening with regards to businesses embracing how to be successful online.

What I have found is that 90% of businesses need to be educated about the benefits of having a well thought out website and online marketing strategy because they have never had a site or a strategy that has worked they have nothing they can measure it against!

At Mediatopia we specialise in business websites and we focus on functionality as a basis to replicate business processes, we have our own in-house CMS that we fine-tune to each client and this works very well.

I think that in order for your strategies to be fully embraced and for the majority of business websites online to be reborn there should be more literature available to business owners!

Hi Paul,

I think you have a misleading title. When i saw it in my email i thought "Wow, let's see what those programmers are hiding for me". But mostly, those things are not their job, let's be fair. You can easily put the following title "7 things that your maid won't tell you" and keep the same content. 

I do all my websites and social media myself. I am self-taught in html, css and graphic design. I had an old, clunky, difficult to update primary website for myself as a DJ. A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time for a big revamp. I proceeded with a nice wordpress design. Fashioned on a bought template I recrafted my old site and managed to drag in content from my blogger, existing wordpress and tumblr blogs. The site isn't totally complete yet but I'm well satisfied with the results. http://djwezg.com is the new look site. I'm posting this as apart from the technicalities involved in setting up your hosting on the servers for wordpress, it is such an easy platform to use for your websites with its user-friendly web-based interface there is no need for software such as dreamweaver. By going to themeforest or the like for templates at a cost of £30-£50 and hosting costs from about £6 monthly, plus your £7 yearly domain fee, building a website using the wordpress.org format could never be easier. There are simple tutorials for every aspect you require and you'll find that bought themes carry excellent documentation designed for the dummies amongst us. Why bother spending hard earned cash on web designers at all when the budget could be used far more effectively in efficiently marketing your website once it is up and running.

Great article! Many graphic designers, web developers and do-it-yourself website builders seem to miss the most valuable aspect of a good website. Having a great online presence and being on more 1st page search results, generates more leads and more customers, and does it more efficiently than other marketing efforts.

We create websites that focus on three main issues. 1) Get FOUND using built in SEO strategy, key word rich original relevant content, correct use of all tags, titles & descriptions, & creating and linking additional search directory pages and social pages. 2) Convert visits to leads with compelling calls to action. Make it simple for site visitors to find the next step and provide a valuable offer. 3) Invoke an emotional response to gain confidence, empathy, trust, etc. so visitor has an immediate comfort level.

Anything that isn't specifically helping in these area is hurting them, and we avoid it.

 

Actually, this is exactly what your web developer will/should tell you, presuming it isn't your "friends nephew".  In fact if they haven't told you exactly this, then there's a very good chance you're talking to the wrong web developer.

LOL'd at "Writing code in command line syntax" - it's funny because it doesn't mean anything, making it obvious that you are not really qualified to comment on what a web developer will or won't say.

 

Agree with your main line of thiking though, despite the misleading title, there is a lot more to websites than the building of the website.  Just like there is a lot more to making a home than you will get from the builders.

 

 

I missed your comment the first time. I agree, these points are exactly what a good dev will tell you. 

"Code in command line syntax" is funny as hell, but it most definitely does not make a website :) I think you should promote web literacy, and that includes a basic understanding of what a website is, and how it comes to be.

Thanks for your comment Richard.

While I may not live up to your expectations or requirements, we are in agreement that a web developer has much to disclose and many more services to deliver beyond just writing code to provide a successful website today.

That was the purpose of the post. Best to you. :-)

Some may view the title as misleading and, in some cases, offensive depending upon how they define a Web Developer.  The industry, even after all this time, is still growing and defining itself.  Perhaps the rapid, exponential growth is a contributor to this defect.

I call myself a Web Developer and through code I strive to provide my clients with the appearance and functionality they need to deliver the information and interaction with their clients to conduct and advance their business online.  I cannot create the appearance of their site, I rely on Graphic, or "Web", Designers for that.  I do not write content, I'm not a writer or marketing specialist, nor can I claim to have knowledge of the vast number of businesses out there and what topics would, or would not, be relevant to an individual.  I understand the concepts of SEO and build a site with these principles in mind so the customer can take advantage of it, but I do not possess the ability to provide SEO services.

I am a specialist, to venture into the other aspects of what makes a website and claim to have knowledge in those areas would be misleading.

Very good information to have and something I will share with my clients!

Deveopers will say anything to get your $$$. Last year I saw a company loose over $100,000 on a project because it was thrown into development without a plan, or any 'design' ahead of time. It was my boss' idea to "go agile" and jump right into development.  Then I proceeded to watch the programmers redo work over and over again. Some pages on this website were re-coded more than 6 times - and the client got stuck with all the "billable hours" from the agency they hired.

This happens a lot. I've seen companies who've burned over $1M with nothing to show for it, and go out of business.

Work with a real designer or manager and plan out what you want before talking to the builder. I know that technology can be confusing but listen to your experts. If your informed, and organized you'll spend less money and get your website a lot faster than if you take the Laissez Faire approach.

Who am I to make such claims? I'm an Art Director and Developer and SEO Specialist and User Researcher.... and I got these skills from building a lot of sucessful websites for more than 18 years.

 

Yeah. Howsa 'bout not hiring a web developer to do your marketing. What a foolish idea. All these people that had web firms are now selling themselves as content marketers when the are ALL far from it. I built huge web sites for 30 years. I am a professional screenwriter and filmmaker. A real storyteller. Not a propeller head. I can hire coders anywhere for almost nothing. I want a real story about my customer (not what ignorant people call stories, which are usually drivel). Most of the things out there right now, like the buzz term content marketing, are the same old thing people have been pushing for years, repacked with a new name. The same old sales copy and other content with a new name. Argh. Nobody is doing anything new or spectacular. Web coders and content creators. LOL!

Thanks

Great article! I hope many companies and organizations read it and get a better sense of the questions to be asked when building or updating a site.

My company delivers exclusively DRUPAL based solutions. My clients come to me because they have already determined the platform.  I find, more often than not, that when a firm or individual comes to me looking for a site, they likely haven't done heir homework yet. I ask them a couple questions to get a sense of what they're really looking for:

"Why would people come to your site?" [is it search traffic, email campaigns, what?]
"What is the purpose of the site?" [to inform, to sell, to make the phone ring, what?]
"What is static about this site? What is periodic?" [are there stories or articles, or blogs, or events, or what?]
"What is the user experience that you want people to have." [professional, trendy-hip, socially engaged, animated?]

There are more questions and these aren't the exact questions or the exact wording. I tailor it to each situation with each client. But the bottom line is that when I start asking these questions, they realize that they need to have a conversation with so-and-so from some other department and some other gal from another department. By the end of the conversation they realize that they don't exactly know what they want to accomplish with the site nor how to accomplish it.

At this point I schedule a 2 to 3 hour in office discovery meeting where I charge a fee to help them get a clearer picture of what it is they truly want to build. Before that meeting occurs, I send them a summary of my understanding of the project and ask a ton of questions that need answered either before or at the meeting. Who's the audience? Where are they? How do we reach them? And many more questions are asked and answered. We review wireframes from their graphics department and/or we review competitor sites to further develop the sense of what is needed.

After this I feel I have what I need to shoot a bid out, so I do.

Hi Paul,

I'm going to share this with social media contacts ... I just published an article about website audits Concentric's Digital Dollars and Sense journal - page4 - http://goo.gl/Mm5BFd . This agrees with some of your thoughts on change.

Joe Wozny
Author
The Digital Dollar
 

 

 

I wish i had read this article before we started redesigning our website. We engaged only a developer (now i realized) and so the outcome is poor. Also we are a small Business. After spending 2500 Dollars on the development, don't know where to start again now. Does anyone know of Good & Reasonable? Developers near New Delhi (India) Area in India who can cater to the mentioned requirements of a good website design?

Exceptional article as well as We recognize absolutely. SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION is both equally essential particularly if this article is posted on "socialization. inches Stunned there was clearly an overall speak about although no unique SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION topic to be a separate hint.

Great article! I hope several firms and organizations scan it and find a stronger sense of the inquiries to be askedonce building or change a web site

Great post … the explanation is so clear and easy to understand..i learn so many things from it..Thanks for sharing!! 

Genuinely good thanks, I do believe your trusty audience would probably want a great deal more blog posts of this nature maintain the good hard work.