I know the title sounds a little adversarial, but the inspiration for this post comes from something I’ve seen so much of that it’s a message I have to be straight up about.
To the average user, a web designer and an IT guy are both computer people, and their skills are largely interchangeable. It’s an understandable assumption, but it’s not true enough to bet your marketing on.
As a preface, nothing I’m about to say is simply because I work on websites, as a cheap shot to drum up new business. If everyone who reads this wanted to work with me I couldn’t handle it anyway. But I started this business because I was sick of seeing the same old misunderstandings happening over and over. Tired of seeing folks make bad decisions, some of which very hard to come back from.
Consider this a public service announcement.
Building A Website Is About More Than Code
A lot of IT pros I’ve met know various coding languages, even if those coding skills have little to do with their IT jobs. Those coding skills can be useful when it comes to building a website, BUT…
If you’ve read many of my other posts about web marketing you know that a successful website requires a lot of pieces to be in place. Getting those right involves several disciplines:
- Consumer behavior/psychology. What are people’s motivations and how to align the presentation with them?
- Copywriting. Even if you know the angle the message needs to take, can you execute it well? Good copywriting is invisible.
- Balancing calls to action without being overwhelming. Folks struggle with this one all the time, and it takes a lot of study and a lot of practice to nail it.
- Familiarity with multiple design platforms, tools, and plugins. Unless you live in the web design space, you probably don’t spend enough time around all these things to know which to use and when for problem solving.
Does your IT professional expect you to believe that in addition to constantly staying up on the latest malware trends, security software, firmware updates, network best practices, etc. that they are also a master of all the above disciplines?
We can be pretty sure they don’t own a time vortex that gives them more than 24 hours each day, so one of three things is true:
- They know a bit about marketing, enough to be dangerous, and promote themselves as such at the expense of their IT skills. Probably because the IT portion of their business isn’t significant enough to focus — which actually says something about those marketing skills.
- They know nothing about marketing, but dabble there because it makes what they perceive as a boring IT service sexier.
- They’re a genius, master of learning all digital disciplines faster than anyone we know and it’s a wonder they aren’t famous. If they want us to go with this one, we should ask for their Mensa card.
Ok, snark aside. On a very serious note, I say all of this to illustrate a common source of frustration in the marketplace.
Small businesses with limited funds may only be able to have their website designed once for the foreseeable future while they scale up. Whenever that’s the case, it’s not a decision that should be made lightly.
I don’t have a problem with the IT profession at all, even if read a certain way this post might imply that. But if you’d heard a story of a person spending their last dimes on a poorly constructed website by someone who fixes printers as many times as I have, the saying “stay in your lane” starts to ring true. Those people had no business building someone a website, especially taking a small business’ last funds to do it.
A real marketer would know that.
Having a website is super valuable these days for credibility alone. But if your business is circling the drain, you need something to change immediately. Throwing your last dollars into a website is not likely to do that; not fast enough to save you. And even if it could, it’d need to be a really inspired design with excellent messaging.
Your average web designer may not be a master of all of the above disciplines, either, but since that’s where they devote the majority of their professional time, what they create is more likely to include the needed bullet points, if you will. This is also why there are often teams that build websites. A designer might be good at crafting the layout and making color choices, and then rely on someone like myself whose main forte is writing and SEO to round it out. Often there’s a graphic artist involved as well for the same reasons.
These things are necessarily interrelated and synergistic when it comes to marketing, whereas printer-fixing or network security skills are not. They are a similar-sounding but entirely separate set of skills for an equally separate industry.