Please, please do not believe that website “experts” can tell your story…they cannot. Yes they know how to put web sites together, they know all about sitemaps and what you should have first and second and if they are very good they can develop and design very good, very comprehensive web sites that are easy to navigate. The best ones will adhere to the principles of “Don’t make me think” navigation.
But that is as far as it goes. They are technical people; they are not marketing people. They are IT experts and think about that for a minute, think about the IT people that you know personally. They are about the last people you want to be anywhere near your marketing, or your branding and least of all your story telling.
Oh, you can listen to their strong opinion about the right color-tone red or blue to use. You can even use their suggestions about the graphics because that is what they are good at. But when they start giving you their opinion about how to tell your story, that’s when you have to move them firmly back into their lane.
Your story is your story and it can only be told by you with the help of professional storytellers. People who know marketing and storytelling and branding. This is especially true when it comes to your website, the key word being “your”.
Look, web designers, please don’t take offense at this. What you guys do is very important, and of course very critical, but your skills are very different from the skills it takes to tell a story and develop a company’s brand. This takes a completely different skill set and you by the very definition of what you do and the skills you have…do not have those skills.
Your website is the face of your company. It’s where people come to learn more about your company. Everything else you do for marketing and social media is designed to drive people, namely prospective customers to your website. All of your marketing, social media, content production, and messaging is to drive people to your website. That means that it better be the best web site that you can possibly produce. And it had better be a true, accurate, attractive, clear, and precise representation of your company. Of who you really are, laid out in the very best light possible.
If your website looks like it was designed by your stepmother’s cousin’s kid then that is a direct reflection of your company and all the time and money and effort you have expended on marketing to drive customers and potential customers to your website will be wasted.
If your web site was designed and produced by expert web designers and is beautiful, easy to use and pleasing to the eye, but doesn’t successfully and clearly tell your story then your money has been wasted and with the best website developers that is usually a lot of money.
So please, please, please come to the idea table with your story when it is time to develop your website with a clear understanding of who you are, what you stand for and what you can do for your customers.
Your website has to be a welcoming place, and a meeting place. A place where people who are thinking of doing business with you come and visit and look around to see if your company is the kind of company they want to do business with. It should be warm and interesting. It should present features, ideas and information that will make your visiting customers want to do business with you.
There should be new and helpful information. There should be success stories and referrals and references. There should be plenty of tips and tools and advice that the customer will find useful. There should be everything they need to know about your company from your company’s story and capabilities to quality qualifications and specifications. You should have some very good and revealing Frequently Asked Questions. And most important of all the website has to be human. You have to feature your key people, especially your experts. Those people who make your company special. Those people, from customer service people to technical experts who are the ones that make your company special. They should all be there and they should all be featured in a friendly and open way so that your customers will be comfortable reaching out to them with questions about their own products.
And yes there should be pages for all of your social media and all of your published content. This is critical. There is nothing sadder than a “What’s New Page” without anything new.
And the most important thing of all is that when building a new website: you have to have access to it. You have to be able to make changes and additions at your leisure without having to involve the website developer.
In the end this is your website, you paid for it, it should be reflecting your company in the best and most accurate light which means you are the one who controls it. Not the website developer as important and good at what they do which is what they are good at and nothing else. It’s only common sense.