Should I get a GREAT design, or just an average look?

Being in the web site construction business, I talk with people about their websites all the time. One of the most common statements I hear is “I want a ‘knock your socks off’ cool website that really looks good”.  To which I reply “Of course – I can do that!”.  But in reality what they’re wanting is VERY different than what they’re saying.

So I set out making an awesome looking site for this client only to find out that their REAL goal is to increase profits by making online sales, NOT having a flashy design.  Having a great looking site and having a search engine friendly “selling machine” are two very different things.

Now, I’m not saying that you can’t have both a good looking site and a site with great selling potential at the same time. That’s entirely possible. I’m simply suggesting that before starting the important task of constructing an online presence, perhaps we should do some serious soul searching to find out what your real goals are.  Here’s why…

There are three areas that are absolutely critical to the success of a website. 

  1. The design. Yes you DO need a good looking website or you won’t be taken seriously by your site visitors. First impressions and company credibility rely heavily on the quality of your site’s design.
  2. Visibility. Most often that means search engine marketability.  If people can’t find you, your site might as well not be on the web at all.
  3. The “close-ability”. Can your site deliver the goods, service, or information that the visitor needs? AND are those visitors becoming buyers, subscribers, users, or whatever else your goals might be.

The person that comes to me and says “I need an ultra-cool site” is often ignoring number two and three on the list. I can only think of one or two examples where the LOOK is the only thing that is important in a website. Usually visibility and close-ability are as important, if not more important factors in the end.

So the question remains do I need a great design? Or will an average look be fine?  Here’s my suggestion. Great design is fine, and even recommended.  But never sacrifice your internet visibility and ability to close sales in order to just have a trendy look. If you have unlimited funds to invest, well then, have it all and live large with the biggest and best of everything. But for the rest of us, we need to be smart about it and maybe decide to spend less of our resources on the raw design (and having cool little flashy thingies all over) and more on the usability or online marketing.  That’s were you typically see true results.

Balance is the key.

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