Because we work with small businesses, many with limited funds or a personal stake in creating marketing that works, we are often asked about how they can extend their marketing dollars.  This question usually follows with a question about the value of hiring a professional web developer or designer.  I think “value” is the keyword here. For some types of businesses/organizations, there isn’t any value, but for many, it is a waste if their website isn’t working hard for them every day.

This week’s question:

When do I need a web expert?

Here are 9 reasons to use a professional website designer and developer on an ongoing basis to create your working website and keep it fresh. If you read no further than the first reason, that should be enough for you to explore working with a professional.

1. Messaging:  The process of developing a website is more than just posting a few pages to a Wix or Squarespace site.  This can be a great first entry into the digital world for small nonprofits.  The process really begins with identifying your key differentiator, also known as your value statement, single net impression, or your competitive advantage. This process is best done with a professional to help you get out of your head and look at your product or service from the audiences’ point of view.

Every professional marketer has a way of helping you flesh out your unique value to your audience.  We use a branding tool called the brand blueprint which takes into account many emotional reasons people should work with you.

Messaging on the website is so important because it is the basis for all other outreach in digital channels.  Your social media will connect to your site as will any advertising and certainly search engine listings.

2. Work with your business Customer Journey: A effective website will fit into your overall customer journey. At the beginning of the customer journey is awareness and consideration, two of the main reasons for a website. Additionally, your hard-working site can help with delivery and even advocacy.  This page has a sample journey map and more explanation of what it is and how you can benefit from using a journey map approach.

3. Make sure the site works (technology-wise): Especially with CMS sites such as WordPress, many technical glitches can make your site simply not work. This is probably the biggest turnoff for a new site visitor. It isn’t uncommon, for instance, to find images that don’t load properly.

Accessibility for a range of visitors is also important and a professional website developer can guide you on the correct design and contrast to ensure it is compliant.

More about website design accessibility

Also, websites can, become infected with viruses or malware. There are many reasons why this happens but a professional web developer will make sure that there are zero technical glitches with the site. They will also perform the necessary tests to ensure that your site is working perfectly on all browsers.

4. A Lasting First Impression:  Your website visitor will form an opinion of your company/organization in the first .05 seconds on your site.  According to Adobe Creative, 38% of visitors will leave your site if the layout is unattractive and not user friendly. A professional can make sure this doesn’t happen.

94% of visitors’ first impressions of your organization are web design-related.

5. Up-to-Date: Professional developers and designers stay up-to-date on the latest design trends, best practices in layout for lead conversion, and how to use technology to improve your Customer Journey map experience.

Over the years website technology has been constantly evolving. Using a professional developer will keep your site working and relevant much longer, putting off the need to redevelop your site in a few years.

6. Mobile Friendly: Almost all sites now are mobile-friendly but not all functionality and features work equally well on a mobile device.  One example is hard to click links in the text instead of easy to click buttons.

7. Drive Traffic: One of the main ways a professional web developer can help your business is by making your site so that it attracts visitors and converts them to leads. Having professionally researched and written search engine optimization tags can increase the number and quality of visitors – positively affecting your business.  Additionally, the site can be set up to encourage those visitors to contact you or sign up for informational emails. This gets into content marketing but the web developer will make sure your site is set up to work optimally with your lead generation goals.

8. On-Going Support: You’ll want a developer that is available when you need them, and one who is proactively working to keep your site fresh. Your digital presence is a living part of your business.

9. Special Features: To help your website work hard for your business, special elements can be used on the site.  Examples include a live chat, Facebook chat, chat bot, exit tracking pop up to promote specials or new events, a full-featured gallery for samples or case studies, and a community access calendar.

So even if you think all your new business is from referrals your website is still your most important tool.  All referrals look at your website first before contacting you, referrals looked at your website and you can be sure you are leaving money on the table.  Creating and maintaining a user-friendly website for your company and brand makes it possible to compete against larger businesses and can help to expand your marketing to an audience you never before thought possible.

In 2020 the use of a professional website developer has come under attack by the easy to set up sites at Wix and Squarespace.  It reminds me of the time when everyone thought they could make a brochure because Adobe came out with Pagemaker (a design layout program, I’m really dating myself with this analogy).  It was a disaster, then, just as it is now when a site thrown up with a few stock images for businesses that really need to differentiate themselves to grow.

About the Author:

This blog is meant to be of service to the many small businesses that need help with how to use web technology for marketing and to better run their business.  I’m a principal at Placemaking Group, and I’ve run and marketed small businesses for over 25 years. I have worked with small business clients helping them to adapt marketing strategies pioneered by larger companies to their specific small business needs.

This small business marketing blog explores ways you can use today’s web technology to be successful. The Placemaking Group’s team of professions, working together, is a complete marketing department ready to serve small businesses.  We look for ways to maximize marketing budgets and to help create operational systems using web technology that have a positive effect on your top-line and bottom line.

If you have a question you’d like to see answered here, please email me  and we’ll throw it in the mix.  Thanks for checking in.

Barbara Irias, principal, customer experience, and marketing strategy.  Connect with me on LinkedIn.