There comes a time when a Web Developer is needed
Being a marketing services group throughout the last decade has been quite eventful! Technology has changed so many aspects of our daily lives, but to us, what stands out the most is the variety of methods companies can now use to reach consumers and how a dependable marketing and web developer is key to website success.
Continual new developments have turned a once flat landscape into a roller coaster ride of the digital sort. Halcyon days for a web developer: In the mid-2000’s, it was all about “web 2.0” – the new breed of custom, consumer-driven web content. Everyone needs a website! (Still true.) Everyone needs an app! (Not so much.) Then in more recent years, the search engines took over. (SEO, SEM, S-huh?)
With that, came the black-hat web developers with tactics to cheat the system for better rankings, until Google caught on and said “hey, not so fast!”. Insert Google Panda update. Websites that ranked highly for hundreds of words all of a sudden became irrelevant overnight. The white-hat web developers countered with “You need more content! Use every social media platform possible!”. Rapid fire. It’s been a lot for the everyday business owner to process and we understand your pain.
Clients shouldn’t get the short end of the stick
There’s not much we haven’t seen when it comes to developing websites. We once had a client who spent tens of thousands on a website made by a Seattle firm. It was a beautiful website, but the client couldn’t afford their monthly maintenance fees and was never able to rank their site or add any new valuable content. A beautiful site with no traffic is nothing more than a glorified business card in your pocket. Beautiful, but not actually doing anything for your business.
We’ve also seen a client spend hundreds per month on a monthly website retainer because it came with built-in analytics. Unbeknownst to them, Google Analytics could have been installed for a minimal cost and no monthly fee. A note that many business owners are quite surprised to learn about.
Businesses often start with a simple website made in-house, but here’s how to know when it’s time to call a professional web developer.
If you don’t have any analytics, you’re missing the boat
Analytics are website 101. If you aren’t tracking the activity on your website, that needs to change first and foremost. Your business needs to hook up with a web developer or other website professional so they can help you add this feature. The most popular analytics program is Google Analytics, and it’s FREE! Most of the time this is all you really need for your website. Why are analytics so important? Would you do any other form of marketing without being able to track the results? (That answer should be NO!) The bottom line is that whether your site is advanced or simple, you can’t afford to have it out there without knowing if it’s helping (or hurting) your business.
A web developer will show you how analytical tools are installed and how they work. They can tell you about your website traffic: where it’s coming from, how long people stay on your website and what they do there. Google Analytics will show you a “map” of visitor activity: the page they go on first, where they go from there, what they click on, etc. Knowing this information is key, because if your site visitors are not going where you want them to, there may be something you need to fix or change. Maybe the link needs to stand out more or the photos are not interesting enough for people to click on. Maybe a page returns an error because a link is broken. Without analytics you may never know.
Taking it further, if you find most of your traffic is coming from Social Media, you may want to boost your activity there. If your traffic is coming from a referral website, you know that’s a good one to be on, especially if you’re paying for it. Using analytical tools are a game changer. If you’re using a free website platform, this feature might not be available for you. So, get in contact with a web developer and ask about your next best options.
If people are clickin’ but not stickin’.
One often-overlooked statistic that analytical programs can show you is how long people are staying on your website. We call this the bounce rate. Your home page, for instance – you want people to stay there as long as possible! Reading, clicking, etc. Studies have shown that having a video on a website homepage greatly improves the visiting time. The numbers go up even more if you set the video to auto-play as soon as someone goes to your homepage. Video content is another one of those “must have” elements that marketing gurus have been buzzing about for the past couple years. In addition to working closely with a web developer, you should work with a video marketing professional to create a successful video content strategy, if that’s something you’d like to pursue.
Much like a first impression with people we meet, your website’s home page will either capture a visitor’s attention or it won’t. It’s important to have a website that looks nice, is easy to read, and easy to navigate on a phone or tablet. If people are not staying on your site very long, it may be an indicator that you need to hire a web developer to update the design or rethink the website strategy. Things like stock photos and lengthy sales copy are a bit outdated and are usually recognized by site visitors right away. Visitors will usually just scroll right past those things. When it comes to web design, less is more. Keeping it clean and classy is most important.
Also, the new standard is to have a website layout that is “fully responsive,” meaning that the design adjusts to screen size. If people are stuck zooming in to look at your old website on their smartphone, they will likely leave the site and not go back. Google will also ding you for a non-mobile friendly website, pushing your site further down in search rankings. Work with a web developer who will examine your site and let you know what’s working and what’s not, from a technical aspect.
To change or re-do an existing site
If your website isn’t delivering the results you want, odds are it needs some design changes. To redesign or rebuild a website requires the knowledge of a pro to create or redevelop your site on a new subdomain and migrate the new site to your domain once it is completed. This is one area where the expertise of a web developer is needed. Migrating and/or moving a website allows you to create a new website while the current site stays up and functional. Without a developer, you may be stuck with a website “under construction” or a site that looks unprofessional and unfinished while you work on it.
There may be a rare occasion where you want to start completely fresh – new domain and all – but you’ll be stuck doing a lot of copying and pasting unless you have a web developer help you back up the content. They can quickly and simply move everything over for you. Things can get extra complicated if you want to move your website from one platform to another. If you’ve decided to finally move your site to WordPress, but it was made with a free site or has a bunch of html files you don’t know what to do with; talk with a web developer so they can let you know your options.
If your site needs to integrate with other technology
Maybe for you, your website is like an online business card; you supply information so people can read it and hopefully contact you. That’s the simplest form of a website, but the possibilities are endless and that is really just the beginning of what a modern website should do. Websites have different functions for different businesses objectives. Talk to a web developer if any of the following apply to you:
- You use your website to schedule appointments
- Your website has a store, takes payments or donations
- Your website has a back-end or restricted area for employees or customers to log into
- If you want to turn your website into an app, or create a complimentary app
- Your website isn’t mobile friendly
- Your website ranks poorly in Google or other search engines
There will always be something new and different in the online marketing world, labeled a “must-have,” sending small business owners into a tizzy trying to keep up. One thing has stayed constant, however; it’s the need for an attractive and functional website.
A web developer can save time, money and a headache
There are a lot of things you can do with your internal staff to save money, but the last thing you want is to put an unprofessional appearance online for all to see. Some advice for those business owners: marketing is never a one-size-fits-all solution. Your best result from the web depends HIGHLY on your audience and offerings. Find a web developer or marketing services team like Olive Group that you can trust. A team that will analyze your current strategy and work with you to deliver the best results for your budget. Their proposal should be based on what works for YOUR business, and not just the latest trend.