The specifics of your website design are not important.

If the topic of this post sounds unbelievable, I hope to open your eyes by the time you finish reading. As with most of my posts, I was gripped by a recent experience I had with a potential customer who owns a car detailing shop. Since we started talking almost two months ago, each discussion he and I have had about considering a website for his business has been a discussion about colors and music. As I attempt to steer the direction of the conversation to more relevant topics, on which his decision should be based, he insists on discussing background music and how he wants “red and yellow everywhere.” Here’s the problem in a nutshell: this business owner is missing a very important point.

Don’t get me wrong. A good looking website is important, and I always intend to use the colors and design schemes that mirror what the client wants. But the truth is that his website is going to be a tool. Some businesses choose to use it primarily as a tool of credibility, an “online brochure,” if you will. But the true power behind a properly designed web presence is in the additional exposure that a properly optimized website can bring to your company…the new customers that your website can attract to your business who would not otherwise find you were it not for your web presence.

For the business owner who may be unfamiliar with these terms, “search engine optimization” simply means making a site search-engine-friendly.  Optimization occurs after the actual design of the site is complete, and involves making the site visible to the search-engines and their “spiders,” or their programs that crawl the web in search of sites with valuable information.  Optimizing a site is vital to properly market the site to Search Engines.

When making the initial decision to possibly invest in a website for your business, the important questions to be asking are NOT questions about design details. Instead, here are a few important examples of questions to ask when you begin this process:

  • How long will it take to have a properly optimized site online?
  • How do you optimize my site after design is complete?
  • Do I have the ability to submit the site regularly to search engines? Or can you provide this service every 4-5 weeks, and at what additional cost?
  • Can I control the addition of new and fresh content at my discretion to attract ongoing Search Engine attention?

Certainly, a poor-looking website that attracts new customers is not what you want either, but recognize the priorities in the appropriate order of importance. Determine a developer’s ability to provide your business with proper visibility first, then worry about making the site look the way you want it. In reality, the latter objective is the easy part that most any developer can accomplish for you.

Getting the traffic to your site is the vital skill that not all site designers possess.


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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Good Layout and design. I like your blog. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. .

    Jason Rakowski

  2. […] Graphic Design Blog wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptA good looking website is important, and I always intend to use the colors and design schemes that mirror what the client wants. But te truth is that his website is going to be a tool. Some businesses choose to use it primarily as a … […]

  3. Once again, Clem, you make a great point! This article reminded me of my experience recently when I purchased a new car. My first several friends immediately asked me, “what color is it?”. We had researched and shopped for quite a while and I was prepared to discuss all of the features and benefits that my new car would offer me, but it seemed there was no one ready to hear that. All the pretty colors and bells and whistles are nice, and like you stated, necessary, but the bottom line is – what is this going to do for me and will it work properly? Thanks, as always, for sharing your knowledge with us!!


  4. Consistency is one of the most powerful usability principles: when things always behave the same, users don’t have to worry about what will happen. Instead, they know what will happen based on earlier experience. Every time you release an apple over Sir Isaac Newton, it will drop on his head. That’s good.

    The more users’ expectations prove right, the more they will feel in control of the system and the more they will like it. And the more the system breaks users’ expectations, the more they will feel insecure. Oops, maybe if I let go of this apple, it will turn into a tomato and jump a mile into the sky.

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