Do you know what the number one request of us is when we engage a new small business website customer here at VandalsSmile? Well, we typically ask all our clients, “So what are you looking to do?” and we get:

“I really want a good looking website for our business!”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, everyone wants to showcase their business on the web. But, too often, it’s kind of like a farmer going in to buy a new tractor and saying, “I want the prettiest tractor here, don’t care about the engine or wheels or anything. Just needs to look great out on the fields!”

Think that farmer would stay in business selling his veggies for very long? Nope.

Now, you may be thinking that’s silliness, but, when it comes to websites, 99% of small business owners equate how a website looks with how effective it will be. Nothing – and I mean nothing in small business marketing – could be further from the truth. In fact, it can be very harmful to your digital fortunes to focus on looks alone.
 

What to Look for in a Website

If you haven’t noticed, pretty much everyone buys pretty much everything now online. They use their phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops to browse big e-commerce sites like Amazon and, very often, Google search to find and research what they’re looking for.

As a result, search giant Google has adapted its ways to help searchers find the most relevant sites quicker and more directly than ever before. In doing so, they’ve created all sorts of de facto technical standards for websites that must be adhered to by their owners and developers lest they get dropped from search visibility and out of results for popular Google searches that would ordinarily lead customers right to their doors.

This has all been a very good thing, as the changes have forced website owners to be:

  • Focused on a few key products and services
  • Simple, usable, and direct when it comes to navigating them
  • Clear and straightforward in the website’s marketing copy (i.e., the words on the page)
  • Clean titles, descriptions, and headings for things
  • Display images and videos that explain what they are very clearly (e.g., ALT TAGS)
  • Running targeted digital ads that show up for their audiences in search
  • Solid in their technical configurations “under the hood” (a.k.a, “Technical Search Engine Optimization,” or SEO)
  • Filled with lots of well-written information that stays fresh and helps buyers make decisions
  • Complete with social media sharing, syndication, and integrations

The weird part of all this?

Almost none of it has anything to do with what your site actually LOOKS like. In fact, the easiest part of building a site for clients is always the look and feel of the site. These days, so many aesthetically-pleasing customizable templates exist for developers to use, “good looks” has become an absolute commodity for websites.

What should small business owners be asking for when contracting to get a new site built?

“Can I get a website that’s solid technically, marked-up well for SEO for my customers, is clean and clear and to the point, as well as great at converting visitors we get to the site with search ads into paying customers?”

We won’t hold our breath though.
 

You Get What You Pay For

Sadly, with the status quo of web development, hosting, and design firms in the U.S. today, when you ask for a site that looks good that’s exactly – and only – what you will get. It’s a request for a site that’s easy, cheap, and quick for them to build – and one that they know they don’t really have to work hard to make you happy with.

You see, web designers and developers are expensive. Very expensive to hire and pay, as a matter of fact. Specialists and engineers good with digital ads and SEO are just as pricey (sometimes more). As such, local or regional web development companies only make a profit when they do two things:

  • Charge you A LOT for the “good-looking website”
  • Spend as little time as possible doing anything else afterward

What’s that mean? Well, it means these companies know everyone thinks good looks equals a great site. More importantly, they know that a good looking site means it’s worth whatever they charged you for it.

It also means you get no carefully implemented site content, setup, SEO, search ads, or – most times – indexing by Google. You know, the things that make your site work for you and worth what you paid.

For the big name hosting companies, like Wix or Squarespace or GoDaddy, well, you won’t even get that good looking site you’re after for your pennies per month. You definitely won’t get anything else to help your site grow your business.

So, when you want a site that will grow your customers and your business, look for more than just a pretty face. As the old saying goes, “Vanity can overtake wisdom and it almost always overtakes common sense.”
 

Want an Affordable Site that Grows Your Business?


 

About the Author

Jason Polancich

Jason Polancich is a linguist, software engineer, data scientist, intelligence analyst, and real estate broker and investor with his wife and business partner Rebekah. He's also the founder and lead architect of VandalsSmile, a data-driven, small business marketing and lead generation network making big data work practically and usefully for owners. Polancich also originally created HackSurfer/SurfWatch Labs (Pre-VC), a cyber analytics firm founded in 2013 that provides highly accurate, timely and actionable information to businesses regarding the cybercrime threats they face. Polancich is a serial entrepreneur focused on solving complex internet commerce, data analysis, and cyber-defense problems. Novii Design, a company he co-founded in 2005 with Rebekah Lewis-Polancich, was based on his contributions to cloud architectures, distributed computing, data analysis and systems integration. The company assisted the U.S. Intelligence Community and Department of Defense in building some of the largest data warehouse and analysis systems ever put into operation within the government and defense contracting sectors. Novii Design was sold to Six3/CACI in 2010. Polancich is also a service-disabled veteran of the U.S. Army. Amazon Author Profile.

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