What can your website designer do for you? They can do a lot. But there are some things that are unrealistic to expect. Here’s the breakdown:
A website designer can create a website that minimizes your headaches/decisions.
This morning, I trained a woman who is going to make her own WordPress website for her business. ‘Wow, there are a lot of choices!’ she said. I know she’ll get through it but she seemed so overwhelmed. And that’s when it hit me.
A big part of hiring a designer, a contractor, a wedding planner, a caterer? We take all the choices possible and give you a couple really good ones just for you. We do other stuff too but not overwhelming clients is a big part of it. Think about getting the best choices brought to you versus having to research all options yourself in any task and you’ll see why this is valuable.
A web designer can not make business decisions for you.
Want me to figure out if offering free shipping is financially viable for you? How to draft a contract for an affiliate you want to work with? These are much bigger questions that aren’t for your designer to decide, especially if they involve something legal or financial. (Fun aside: I can tell you that most successful Fortune 500 companies spend 10% of their gross budget on marketing. In other words, you gotta spend money to make money as the adage goes!)
We can give you the website end of information but as the person that runs your business, you know much more about its focus, goals, price points, etc. than I do. If you need help, try a business counselor/consultant. Women Work and Community, CEI, and SCORE all have counseling services, in the state of Maine (where this blog is written) and beyond.
A website designer can train you on making website updates.
One of the major improvements in website technology the last few years? The ability to create a system where someone can update a website.
In my famous example: I trained a definitely-over-65 year old lady on how to use WordPress. We did two, 1.5 hour sessions. The first one I did a basic overview, the second she brought her questions and we did more advanced stuff. I haven’t heard from her in over two years and her website is still online. Success, and an illustration of how we all should keep learning everyday.
A website designer can not train you on how to do their entire job.
I find it kind of funny when someone thinks they can figure out my entire job in two weeks. Or even a year. Honestly people, I’ve been doing this for years and I still see things daily that make me say “What the…?”
In other words, I could train you… to a point. And to be fair, I don’t think I could learn your job in a few short sessions either. So trust me when I say something is ‘a bit complicated’. I’m not trying to make a quick buck; I am trying to save your sanity.
Web designers can build ‘insurance’ into your website.
From my point of view, handing over a website to its owner is like handing over a beloved car you’ve been driving awhile. Its new owner could be a reckless driver or someone who cares of the car like a member of their family; you have no idea.You just hand over the keys and hope it gets a good home.
The point is, it’s your site when we’re done. Yours to tackle the Indy 500… or crash in a explosive wreck. What we can do is have automatic backups and other insurance in place to cut down on spam, block repeatedly failed logins, etc. It doesn’t completely prevent bad things but it helps.
Website designers can not make you a site that will never break or need maintenance.
Do you expect to drive your car without oil changes, periodic maintenance, or gas for 250,000 miles? Of course not. Yet some people expect that you can have people visiting and using a website everyday and not update it. Or that they’ll never get hacked.
First off, there is no rhyme or reason to hacking most of the time. There could be just some bored 15-year-old looking for something to do on a Friday night. It’s (usually) nothing personal. But it can happen. Especially if you don’t update your software. So you see, the two are related.
Truth is much of the maintenance you can do yourself, some of it you’ll need help doing though. You’ve invested in a website, treat it with periodic care… sometimes care that is needed by your trusty website mechanic.
A website designer can build search and user friendly features into your site.
It’s interesting when I get a list of requirements for a website and on it, the business/organization has listed ‘SEO’ or ‘search engine friendly’ features. To me, it’s like saying ‘I want a house with windows and doors’. We automatically set things up to be search friendly… though I can see why people include this to ensure it happens.
Things like search engine friendly URLS (www.breakingeveninc.com/about versus www.breakingeveninc.com/page=22), unique page titles, and images with alt tags are standard in how websites are done. Or at least should be.
A website designer can not make traffic go to your site.
So there’s two parts of search engine optimization. One part is called ‘on page SEO’ which is stuff you do on your own website to make it friendly (like examples above). The other part is called ‘off page SEO’. These are things you do not on your website, like using social media or having links from other websites/blogs. These are equally important to what you do on your own website and some would argue even more important.
Besides thinking about off-page issues, you also have to keep your website up-to-date with useful information. If a website has old information, no one will visit it, no matter how amazing the features.
So as you think about hiring a web designer (or using your web designer), keep these in mind. Like most service professionals, we will always try our best to give you as much as we can.