What you should understand before building a website

I had one of those frustrating conversations last night, that reminded me that people still don’t understand this web truism:

WHAT A WEBSITE LOOKS LIKE IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS HOW IT WORKS.

Now by “how it works” I mean both critical aspects:

The build – the mechanics that drive it and affect how easy (or impossible) it is to update, how well it can be indexed by Google, etc.

The sales – does it get your prospects / customers / members to do what you want them to do. Do they buy, or comment, or sign up.

If your site won’t – or can’t – deliver you a result, who CARES how pretty it is.

This is not to say there’s no role for design. But if the world’s most successful ecommerce sites are Amazon and eBay, you should have got the hint that looks aren’t worth much!

I’ve been in online marketing since 2000. 12 years. I’ve worked with ALL sorts of sites, in all sorts of business. What I’ve seen is that websites built on CUSTOM systems are never a good idea in the long run, unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of money.

By custom systems, I mean that every web company (and their dog) have built a CMS (content management system) over time. Or they’ve had a graphic designer “design” a pretty site and then coded it to suit.

If you are on a limited budget do NOT go this route (and even if you have a good budget, you may find that using a back end system almost no-one else uses will limit you within 2-3 years).

What should you do?

Use a cloud based computing solution like WordPress or an open source system like Joomla or Drupal. If you want an ecommerce store, use MagentoGo or Shopify or Big Commerce.

Don’t start from scratch unless you’ve got millions of dollars (or hours) to waste OR your website actually DOES something unique that needs unique systems and programing. Most don’t. Most are online brochures or online stores.

It is not cutting corners to use these systems.

It’s SMART. It’s a good use of your funds. It’s still a “proper” website. You wont be locked into one developer. Millions of people are using these, so you’re not paying for the upgrades. It’s not a short cut. It’s not doing it poorly. Build your success on the learning of millions of businesses before you. That’s what a smart zero budget marketer does when they can.

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