We see referrals on Facebook all the time when someone is asking for a web designer/developer where people say “Don’t pay anyone, you can do it yourself”
Yes, that is absolutely true, you can build your own website. Just like you can repair your own car, or build and remodel your own house. If you have the knowledge and skills you might actually end up with something that looks pretty good. Of course hiring a professional makes it easy.
But what is the real cost? That is magic question and many times the magic bullet. This might be a little long winded, but I feel the need to point out a few things and give a little history, so refill your coffee.
We started out building websites in the fall of 1993. There were only a handful of websites in existence. The next few years we dabbled in fixing websites only. We never wanted to build websites. We built Internet information servers and networks, and custom software for debugging applications to make them better and more bulletproof. In our opinion, there were just too many web developers/designers out there who muddied the waters and created problems. Most web designers back then were graphic artists who become a web designer by default. Plus, what was so complicated about building website – hell, anyone could do it. It was brainless work in our opinion, but we were wrong.
But, our customers kept asking us to fix their web designers problems because we were building the servers. We inherited project after project to repair. This function didn’t work right or they wanted the website to do some feature their web “designer” didn’t know how to code. It seemed that web designers could design but not build. Unfortunately it is still that way today with many web designers we run into. We also had a software application that traced what software was doing when and how. So for about a dozen years we tracked everything people did on the websites, then google came along and made that a whole lot easier. We learned how customers USE a website.
So fast forward to the eve of 2019 and over 3500 websites later. Our team has an abundance of knowledge. The one thing we learned is that websites have to have certain things to be successful for small businesses and the other thing we learned is that users are different depending on markets.
Take a restaurant for example. We have several sites for various restaurants. What does a restaurant user look like? Well for one thing – the users are looking at the website from their phone 77.1 to 81.4% of the time. There are also a few other things but we are keeping that to ourselves.
But if we look at an Assisted Living Facility, their phone users are only 49%. Well below the average. All of this information matters when you are building your website. There are also all the details of how people use websites for those industries. What are they looking for, what happens if they cannot find it.
I get a lot of flack for not telling all the secrets, but that is how we provide for our families. I will not share the information publicly. Pretty much how most restaurants don’t share all their recipes or a mechanic won’t tell you how to fix your broken car.
I will tell you that on a restaurant site, if 3 things are missing, roughly 2/3rd of the customers will simply hit the back button and will go check out another website. Does that mean they will not eat at the restaurant? We don’t know that answer, but as a business you spend a lot of time and money promoting your brand. To get people to come to your online presence and then cause them to leave is most likely hurting you.
Take the Assisted Living and Nursing home. If 2 things are missing on that site, we know that 66-68% of the phone users will never call the business. While phone users only account for just under half that is probably not a big deal, except for that number represents 158 potential customers a month. Or a potential of $632,000 in sales per month that you don’t even get a chance at communicating with.
The question you are probably asking yourself, if I build my own website, or if I just grab a template design and fill in the blanks, am I missing this information on my site. The companies making those templates are typically farming out that work to India or Philippines and those designers have no idea what makes users tick. It is not that they don’t care, they simply have never thought about it. Most web designers we meet have never even thought about it. They are focused on making the website look pretty or performing for SEO. They want people to come to the site, but rarely think about what happens when they get the user there.
I can tell you this from personal real world experience. We get called a few times a week to fix or update websites that were built by a “professional web developer”. 70% of those websites, which were built by a professional web designer, are missing these key features. And for those DIY sites, only 3 in the hundreds and hundreds of sites we have looked had the correct features on it.
Back to that Facebook thread for a conclusion. There were a few people who posted what an awesome job they did building their own websites. I really resisted taking a look because I did not want to become a stalker, but when doing research on a few numbers while writing this I decided to go ahead take a look at their business and website. 2 of the businesses are very much like existing customers of ours. So we have very exact data going back a few years.
Here is what we found. First, both businesses are very small business. They would most likely have to finance a site from us. Second, both sites are very weak when it comes to design. That is to be expected and it not a really big deal. BUT – both sites are missing key elements. In the one case, we know that if they have similar traffic to our sister site, they are missing out on 61 phone calls a month. The other site we know that 29 people will not call them each month. Both are very small businesses. So maybe it doesn’t matter. But the service missing out on the 61 phone calls a month the average customer bill is $275 That is $16,775 which is about 20% more than their monthly revenue. That business missing out on 29 calls a month? It is a part time business that does about 3 jobs a week at an average of $330 a job. So those 29 calls represent a potential of double their monthly business.
Will having a professional website increase your sales? Probably, but if you build it, they still won’t come. There are way too many factors. The website alone is not a guarantee for success. The other issue is that many small businesses we talk with have no idea where all their business comes from. One of our customers is hilarious. They will call us every few months and say excitedly, “hey we got a customer from the website”. In their mind they think that only 1 or 2 people every few months look a their website. In reality, 6 people EVERY SINGLE DAY call them from website directly. They are happy with the website as it gives them a few thousand $$ a year in their mind. In reality, it is a few thousand $$ a month.
None of this is perfect data. There are 2 many variables in play to say this information is definitive. We see businesses succeed and fail all the time. We know a few facts, one of them being that 2/3 of people referred to your business will look at your website. And that people, if they don’t find what they are looking for on your website leave immediately. We don’t know if they never call. We do know that with that info on your website, people call.
Thanks for listening. If you need a quality web designer – give us a call. We are never the cheapest and never the most expensive, but around 2000 very happy customers will tell you we are the most affordable web designer in Tampa Bay.
Next up I am going to address the question of can having a bad website actually hurt you over not having a website at all.