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When Web Design Gets in the Way

Web design as part of inbound marketing strategyDon’t let design get in the way of your company website — that is, if you’re website is designed to grow your audience, generate leads, and build your business. If your website is there as nothing more than a brochure to convey static information about the company, then go ahead, spend 9 months on the design … heck, spend 2 years on the design. It won’t matter, no one’s going to find it anyway!

The best business websites serve as a hub for the overall online presence of the organization. The website-as-marketing-engine is home to a blog (with steady, valuable content), landing pages to reduce distraction, crystalizing the point of conversion, and well thought-out calls to action making it easy for users to move toward becoming customers. If this is the kind of website you want, don’t let design get in the way. And this is coming from someone who makes a living designing websites!

I work for an internet marketing firm and we see it too often — the client gets excited about the site design (or redesign) process and all their mental energy goes into the shade of green in the background or whether the lower-third of the home page should be 270 or 290 pixels wide. What was intended to be the first step of a larger content marketing program is still lingering two months in. I get it, design is intensely personal, whether it’s the color of paint in your living room, choosing the scarf or the necklace, or putting out a new website to represent your company. But you’ve got to decide what your website is for … if it’s the static brochure, go ahead and mull over the gradient behind your menu navigation, but if it’s website-as-marketing-engine, move on.

Design matters. Don’t think I’m saying you should just throw anything up on the web. A good user experience and strategically mapping out a site visitor’s path to conversion is determined, in many ways, at the design stage. I always start with a targeted design questionnaire and spend time figuring out the preferences of the customer. In the end, we hopefully come up with a site that doesn’t draw attention to itself, but instead exists to host all the elements of good inbound marketing program.  Simple, professional, functional web design is just a first step — then, you can get on to what really matters — publishing great content, increasing traffic, and growing your online community.  Just don’t fall into the design trap and trip on the first step!

Next up, I want to explore what makes for a great website design questionnaire. What are the questions that need to be asked to facilitate a good design process? If you’ve not already subscribed, take a second and do it here if you want the RSS feed, or over to the right you can enter your email address to receive updates.

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