So you need a website? Talk to Dr. Dev

It’s become basic instinct now to Google everything – I know I do. The problem is that we go to Google looking for answers, but often end up with more questions.

A small mark on the arm easily turns into a deadly cancer when experts from Google-land are brought in for diagnosis.  You end up looking through images that will give you nightmares, convinced you need experimental medication with side effects that could include insomnia, paranoia, incontinence and alopecia. We’ve all been there.

A lot of clients I’ve spoken with have gone through the same process when finding a website. Google. Get overwhelmed. Panic.

Take a step back, look up and just breath. It’s time to speak with Dr. Dev.

Choosing the right expert

When you actually go to see a doctor instead of Googling, you’ll almost certainly be told “that’s just a birthmark you’ve never noticed before.” You might even be offered a lollipop! And if it is something more serious, you’ll be immediately advised on what needs to be done to treat it.

Like your doctor, a web expert will listen patiently, answer your questions honestly, and give you sound advice. They won’t just throw the latest trends or products in your face (“Use React, No, Angular, No, build it on Node.js. No, use this bespoke CMS.”), but instead will recommend products and solutions that he/she is confident in. Most importantly, s/he’ll draw on a careers worth of experience in delivering the results promised.

But there are so many “experts” all saying nice things, how do you choose the right one?

Now I’m not trying to oversimplify things. As with many problems we face there isn’t always just one solution. This is my attempt to share from my experiences in the industry, working both for creative agencies and client-side not-for-profits.

The first step is to clarify what you want to achieve and the purpose for the site. Is it a quick site on a small budget? Is it a rebuild of your current website? Or is it a complete from the ground up project which involves branding, design, UX, IA and of course, web development.

If you’re on a tighter budget and you need something simple and quick. A freelance designer or developer could be just the solution. You could even look into a service like Squarespace if it’s really something simple you need, and focus your budget on marketing instead.

If you’re looking to refresh the look of your site a bit, or make it “pop” (don’t use this word with a designer – they really hate it) a bit more, then a designer or a boutique design agency might be just what you’re looking for.

Now let’s say you have a website that was built for your company many years ago, it used to serve your business well, and it still receives a lot of traffic and conversions. This website is an integral part of your business and in most cases the first interaction someone would have with your business.

But lately you’ve started noticing a few issues, it’s looking dated, it doesn’t perform as expected on new browsers and device, and most importantly, the site is no longer a proper representation of your business or products. You know it’s time for an upgrade, you just aren’t sure what type of upgrade you need.

Perhaps your business doesn’t have a website yet, you’ve been meaning to have one developed but the business has been putting it off due to other urgent matters. But having a strong online presence is no longer something that can be put off. You want to make sure that whoever develops it has a deep understanding of your business and can help you navigate the often daunting task of creating an online presence that does your business justice.

This is when engaging a full-service creative agency would be the best course of action.

Full service, fuller returns

A good creative agency will have experts who can walk you through each step of the process, starting by taking the time to understand your business and then creating a custom plan to meet your needs. This means looking beyond the immediate task at hand (building a website) and examining what that website will need to actually achieve in terms of business, brand, marketing and performance objectives.

While a freelancer or boutique will take your brief and give you back (hopefully) more or less what you asked for, a full-service agency will help you improve the brief, hit core objectives and ultimately establish sustainable growth in your online presence.

Since you’re reading this on the Yoke website, you already know I work for a creative agency. When I’m asked what I do I usually answer with something along the lines of, “I work for a creative agency as a web developer,” and the reply I often get is, “oh, you build websites.”

Yes, that’s my role in the process, but the final product that is delivered is so much more than just a “website.”

It’s the prime online positioning of your brand and business for maximum exposure and results.

Cutting edge user experiences, branding or rebranding, research and insights into target market and demographics, innovative and interactive design, performance and conversion strategy – it all makes the difference between taking a pamphlet and sticking it online, and building a comprehensive hub for your business and marketing efforts.

And when it comes right down to it, it’s what ensures a tangible return on your investment.

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