It’s 2017, and as we move into the new year, it’s a good time to make sure that your company is equipped with all of the tools that it will need for success this year. One of those tools is undoubtedly a really good website. But what exactly constitutes a good website in 2017? I’ve done a bit of website design and development myself over the years, and I know firsthand that the trends have changed dramatically. Does anyone still remember the early versions of Netscape, which allowed blinking text, when no other browsers could do it? That was cool and stylish, well, for 1994, but it didn’t take too long before that looked completely outdated. As a point of reference, the <blink> HTML tag, which produced that effect, was finally phased out in 2013 when the Firefox browser stopped supporting it.
Today’s web is a very different place from the “wild west” that it was in the 1990’s, and it’s certainly going to take more than blinking text or animated .gifs (another staple of that era) to achieve the results that you’re looking for. A modern business website can’t just look sharp and fashionable. It also needs functionality, including the ability to transact sales. It needs to include a variety of elements that will facilitate the process of converting visitors to the site into customers who will actually buy from you. And, it should be in tune with current design trends. Without delving too far into the details of overhauling your website, suffice it to say that if you haven’t done a significant refresh of your site in the last year or two, chances are that visitors will find it out-of-style, if not totally obsolete.
However, once you’ve decided that it’s time for a redesign of your site, there’s one big question: whether to do it yourself or to outsource your website design and development. I don’t mean you personally doing the rebuild of the site, unless that’s something that’s in your wheelhouse. I’m referring to the option of managing that process in-house, as opposed to having the work done by an outside web developer. There are a few points that you should consider as you make that decision.
Everyone is concerned about the bottom line, so let’s address this one early in the discussion. On the surface, it appears that it will be less expensive to manage the process with your existing in-house staff. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to assume that you don’t have a full-blown IT department in place, and that even if you do, you don’t have a dedicated web development team. A report by our friends at HubSpot, entitled “The Science of Website Redesign”, showed that the average cost of an in-house website redesign project was $30,106, which similar projects managed by an outside agency bore an average cost of $69,586. If you’re going to make your decision based solely on the price ticket, an in-house redesign wins. However, there’s a lot more to factor into this decision.
Diversity of Available Resources.
While cost is an important factor, and certainly shouldn’t be ignored, don’t forget to consider what you would actually be getting for the additional money you’d pay for outsourcing the work to a website design and development shop. First off, keep in mind that this isn’t unskilled labor, something you can do on breaks from your regular daily grind, or add to your employees’ workload. While there are a number of simple, user-friendly web design tools available that allow anyone to design a web page as easily as you can create a document in a word processor, those are not going to produce the kind of high-powered modern websites that you need to be competitive in 2017. The site that you’re probably looking for will involve a number of elements, most of which are best handled by the individuals that specialize in each task, including:
A skilled web developer, who can write efficient, optimized code, and can build in a content management system (CMS) with a user-friendly interface that will allow you to easily add and update content at a later date. This person will know how to produce responsive web pages, that is to say, pages that will look right on different devices with different screen sizes. Remember that your customers aren’t just going to be looking at the site from the desktop computers. Many will be viewing from the phones or tablets, and if your site doesn’t look sharp or work properly on their devices, they’re likely to quickly move on to one of your competitors. A developer familiar with modern sales websites will also be able to connect your site to your CRM system, to enable you and your sales team to track your visitors through the buyer's journey.
A sharp, talented web designer, who has an understanding that your website is not just an art project or a fashion statement. They should also have a feeling for the experience you want your users to have as they traverse your site, and be able to design pages that make it easy for a visitor to navigate.
A copywriter, who can write about your offerings, as well as other topics that are relevant to your target audience. This writer should also know how to optimize your content for SEO (search engine optimization), so that you can be sure your potential customers will find you in their web searches.
A marketing professional, who can guide the website design and development in accordance with the strategies and goals you’ve set for the site. This person is a key player in the process, as the strategist, and the individual with the tactical perspective to tie together the entire redesign.
If you don’t have all of these talents on your staff, it’s going to be worth the additional expense to outsource the project, assuming that you are looking to build a fully functional sales website. If all you really need is a static site that is basically a digital version of your printed marketing collateral, you may be able to produce something viable in-house with your existing staff. But if you’re looking for a website that will help you attract and close more sales, and enable you to be competitive in today’s digital marketplace, you’d do well to consider outsourcing the work to experts who can build a modern website, with a deep understanding of your marketing process.