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Why professional web design gives the best ROI for any new online business

04 : 01 : 2014

On a number of occasions people have said to me that there is no future for web professionals. They say that it’s easy to build your own website nowadays. And to be honest, I have to agree. There are lots of services out there that enable you to drag and drop elements around a page, choose a colour scheme, then click a few buttons and you have a website.

If you are going to go down that road, why not build your own car, or your own house? Of course it’s much easier to build a website than a car or a house, but that’s only because we’ve spent decades adding to the level of detail in the production of property and automobiles. The web design industry is in the process of doing the exactly same thing.

There are lots of other simpler tasks in life that we could quite easily do ourselves with a bit of study, but we choose not to. Why do we pay for estate agents? We could do it ourselves. Why do we pay for plumbers? We could do it ourselves. Why do we pay for lawyers? We could do it ourselves. Why do we pay for accountants? Again, we could do it ourselves.

The truth is, we pay for these professionals because we have our own specific skills, and we want to be sure that these other services are done by people who can provide us with a great service based on experience.

On that note, I would like you to try to build your own website, specific to your exact requirements, I’ll even give you some tips. First, spend a month or so learning the basics of HTML. That way you can learn why using HTML5 is better than using XHTML1. You can learn why different elements display differently in different web browsers and on different devices, and how to fix that problem.

That brings us swiftly onto CSS. A month learning this too should be enough to grasp the basics like the box model, and how it is applied to all major web browsers. You might also learn which browsers support the new CSS3 prefixes, and how you can use these new concepts to provide your end users with a much better experience.

Next, JavaScript. With the majority of smaller websites you could get away with using a small JavaScript library such as jQuery for your dynamic interactivity. This should only take a couple of months to get your head around to a basic standard. More importantly, you need to decide if your users on mobile devices should be required to download a library at all. Your potential customers won’t be very happy if their mobile data plans are eaten up very quickly due to downloading libraries that were unnecessary. You could always use a CDN though right? What about AJAX, does your JavaScript need to interact with a web server?

Speaking of web servers, do you plan to be able to edit your content through a CMS? If so you’ll need to add a database to your hosting plan. You could use a simple publishing system like WordPress, or if you want to go that bit further maybe Expression Engine. But, in most cases you will need to tweak the code to suit your requirements. How’s your PHP? Or your Python? What about Ruby?

What about responsive web design? If you want to compete on today’s web, shouldn’t you be providing the best possible experience for your end users? This is not really an option. It’s essential.

Next, SEO. Google alone indexes hundreds of billions of web pages. What is your strategy to ensure that your pages will be up there with your competition? There is no point in spending a single penny on a website if you need to rely on organic web traffic and your website is only going to be on page 6 of Google for your targeted keywords.

There are a few more hurdles to jump yet. Trust is a key issue. Even if you can get your potential customers to trust you, are you providing them with a good user experience with a clear call-to-action?

But, you’re saying, I can drag and drop my elements around the page. I don’t need to be technically proficient at all. I don’t need to know any code. Yeah, good luck with that. To be honest, I want you to try to make your own website, it may even look really nice. But when the traffic is much lower than you expected, and the hits that do come don’t convert into paying customers, you’ll soon be on the phone to a professional.

Lastly, I want you to stop thinking of your project as just a website. From now on I want you to think of your project as your online business. The internet is still very much in its infancy. If you apply the same hard work, dedication and discipline to your online business as you would to a bricks-and-mortar business, you have every chance of being an even bigger success in a digital world.

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