this 2-part article, Dr. Tong promotes
ideas that you just won't read anywhere else about the intimate
connection between web design and web marketing, based on his
20 years of experience with the Internet. (If you missed Part
1: Some Powerful Trade Secrets, click
You Get What
You Pay For
Two of the
most common questions we get asked are:
- Why shouldn't
I just do it myself? There are wonderful tools (FrontPage, Dreamweaver,
etc.) that allow anyone to create web pages.
someone down the street who is offering to build me a website
for $500 or even better FREE. Why should I pay you a higher
price or anything - for that matter.
read everything up to this point (Part
1 of this article), you've probably already anticipated
the punch line of this section! It's pretty obvious. Let's put
it all together.
want just a website. You want a profit center. And
for a website to be a profit center, everything has to
work well together - like a well greased machine, a Marketing
Machine. Just doing some of it sort of well is not it -- in this
business, a miss is as good as a mile. Such as:
- The keywords someone
types into the search engine have to bring up your site in short
order. (We're just using search engines as one example of a
starting point in the process.)
- The description
they read there has to be enticing enough to click on.
- The page they arrive
at has to draw them into the site.
- The site has to
be designed like a sales argument so they reach the place you
want them to at close.
- Because most website
visitors need 5 visits to a site before they make a purchase,
the site needs to be constructed to help draw them back again.
(Again: our QCS email system supplements
a marketized website in achieving this purpose.)
- The means for making
a purchase has to mesh with the way they prefer to make purchases.
(For example, did you know that, on the average, 60% of the
sales of sites with e-commerce capability come through electronic
card orders? Imagine how many sales you'd be losing if you didn't
provide that means.)
- The means must
be provided for contacting and attracting them to return again.
The biggest source of income for most online businesses is repeat
customers. Means such as member registration, website personalization,
"frequent buyer" discounts, email reminding them of
your site (such as our QCS email system),
etc. are among the means for helping to cultivate repeat customers.
don't get all that right with your favorite web design
tool. In fact, you don't get all that, period. It's like
someone thinking purchasing a canvass, brushes, and paints will
instantly turn them into a painter! There is an incredible amount
of expertise involved in making all the pieces of the puzzle fit
together. And -- guaranteed (we know this from the actual experience
of designing many, many sites) -- you are not going to
get it all right yourself the first time. And that is going
to cost you -- because when you decide to get it right, you'll
have to start from scratch again.
no one who charges $500 is going to possibly be able to provide
you with the necessary expertise to do everything right.
Or to do everything, period. Either they are shortcutting
in terms of the time and creative energy they are investing in
your site; or they (or the college students they hire to keep
costs down) plain old don't know or don't care about
what is really involved in creating an Internet profit center.
(Read our criteria for choosing a web
designer.) You can even give them a short quiz, based on this
article, including such questions as:
- Does the design
of a web page impact the ranking of that web page on the search
engines? Are they optimizing web pages with respect to those
issues as part of their $500 package?
- Do they know how
to build sites that are highly interactive? Is that part of
their $500 package?
- Do they understand
niche marketing? Do they know how to work a company's Unique
Selling Proposition into the design of the site? Is that part
of their $500 package?
- Do they know how
to structure websites so that they function as sales arguments,
with a clear opening, elaboration, and close? Is that part of
their $500 package?
- Do they have any
sense of the signals that cause visitors to "reject"
a website within seconds? Do they design sites that get past
these rejection filters? Is that part of the $500 package?
- Do they build sites
with e-commerce capabilities? Do the sites support the entire
range of purchasing options, particularly secure credit card
purchases? Is that part of the $500 package?
get a website from them, no doubt! But you won't get an
Internet profit center. Or anything that could easily or
cheaply be converted into one.
So -- the
upshot is: you get what you pay for!
for Keeping Costs Down and Quality High
been said -- let's spin the coin.
does doing all this right cost? Here's the report of one
reputable and current survey:
Costs for Web development are up substantially
in 1999, according to this month's NetMarketing Web Price
Index. For the first time, prices have increased across
the board for small, medium and large sites. Median prices
for small sites posted the most dramatic increase -- 75%,
from $44,500 to $78,000 -- since the most recent Web Price
Index look at costs for developing full sites, in June 1998.
(monthly survey of Web
developers in six markets
the bad news. But here are two statistics drawn from our own web
design experience that you may find interesting:
- the primary
source of design time (and therefore of design cost) is re-design
- 70% of
all re-design effort is unnecessary, and is the result
of client ignorance, poor communication, or poor management.
part of the reason our costs are nowhere nearly this high (more
typically in the $3000 to $15000 range) is because:
And then there are
a couple of other factors:
- We make use only
of the technology necessary to achieve our client's purposes.
(The web database technologies used by the largest companies'
websites -- by themselves-- comprise tens of thousands of dollars
of the overall total; most small to medium size companies don't
need anything so sophisticated for their web database needs).
- We use affordable
means for shifting the responsibility for updating the website
onto your own staff over time (the goal of many companies),
rather than requiring you to pay for expensive, high-end interfaces.
education. In our experience, there is often no better starting
point for educating our clients about what's involved in doing
high-quality web design than to provide them with our list, sources
of added design cost. Check it out and see if you don't learn
communication. Website design involves people working together
in creative and effective ways, as a team. This means that, not
only do the participants in the process have to be good "technicians"
at their respective roles (see effective division
of labor), they must also know how to cooperate with each
other, communicate clearly, and put effort into pre-solving problems
together. An integral aspect of our design process is getting
every participant to understand that the earlier on they communicate
what their role requires them to communicate, the easier and the
briefer (and the less costly) the overall design process will
be. So the company should communicatee as clearly and fully and
early as possible what they are looking for in their
website; the designers should communicate as clearly and fully
and early as possible how they are going to render
what the company is looking for. A lot of painful re-design cycles
can be avoided by such early-on cooperative communication. Yes,
it's obvious! But not by any means always practiced.
division of labor. The process of designing a website is complex,
as we have seen. Here are some possibilities to consider:
- If you already
have an in-house graphic designer, add him or her to the team,
and let the design experts manage the activities of this valuable
team player. This will help keep the cost down, without splintering
the design process.
- If you have an
in-house computer technician, or even simply someone who is
not computer-shy and willing to learn a couple of new tools,
such a person can be trained in a couple of hours to make straightforward
changes to the company website. The combination of an in-house
computer technician with an in-house graphic designer can cut
back on a lot of the expenses that would otherwise by incurred
by many re-design rounds at a distance, between the client company
and the design company.
- If your business
is large, and more than one person has a say in the decision-making
associated with website design, than we strongly recommend appointing
one person website design project manager for your company.
This is the person who will be responsible for arriving at a
concensus when a decision must be made. And this is the person
who will act as the primary contact point on your end in communications
between your company and the design company.
- Most important
of all: let the design company direct the process; they are
the ones with the experience, who know the pitfalls, who know
the goal and the best way to get there.
It's worth adding
that -- with the right design process, the right division of labor,
and effective use of all the means of communications channels
available in 1999 -- design at a distance has become perfectly
possible (and in our experience commonplace):