Why You Don’t Need a Web Designer Any More by Dennis Yu

by 09 Jan 2011
10 years ago getting your business online was a technical challenge—you had to know FTP, html, PHP, and a wide array of languages, protocols, and tools.    Then came a range of user-friendly tools that let unsophisticated users create their own websites—you can name your favorite, as well as perhaps argue why hand-coding or your tool of choice was better than some point and click package.   And now anyone can create a website in minutes with zero technical know-how necessary. In fact, with a Facebook page, Google Places listing, or LinkedIn profile, you can be successful without even having a website. Many   THROW THE HIGH PRIEST OUT OF THETEMPLE   10 years ago, unless you were a coder, you had to go to the high priest if you wanted any changes made to your website. And if you asked in just the right way, with the appropriate sacrificial offering, the high priest would perform an incantation—then magically, your website would have that image added, text updated, or whatever you requested.   It was clear you were at their mercy. Like the only car dealership in town, they could charge whatever they wanted for new cars or repairs. You wouldn’t want to anger the gods, for fear of retribution or their arcane mumblings about why other ways of growing your business online are unsafe and unpious. Certainly, mere mortals cannot understand their ways.   Nowadays, as a mortgage broker, you have control, since your website is a business decision. You can easily measure what you spend and how many leads you get.   
  • You can ask your vendor-- how many leads will you get from their $500 package versus their $3,000 package? If they snow you with technical babble and can’t formulate a response in plain business-speak, run—don’t walk! Any expense you have for on-line marketing must be quantifiable into traffic and conversion. Traffic is mostly advertising, while conversion is about getting that traffic to turn into phone calls. It’s this simple—for every dollar you spend—whether on labor or ads—how many leads does that turn into? The discussion about the bits and the bytes is meant to confuse you to pay for things you don’t need.
  • You see a website you like? There are thousands of freelancers that will mimic it for you for a few hundred bucks. Those folks make about $20/hour and create pricing pressure onUSdesign firms that can only hem and haw about how somehow they are better. But in the same way you can buy that can of Coke for $8 from the hotel mini-bar or 25 cents at the supermarket, you can shop. Further, you can buy pre-made sites or semi-custom designs for cheap or even free. And as a company that charges up to $100,000 for new websites, we can tell you that it’s not necessarily true that you get what you pay for.
  • Your website should have only ONE goal—to convert. Are you tracking how many visitors turn into phone calls or leads? You should be getting one lead for every 10 people that visit your website.  If not, then there’s something wrong with your website—and most likely it’s because you are not providing enough information to convince a prospect that you’re worth a phone call.  Do you have a video greeting of yourself, client testimonials, a rich description of what you offer, your address and phone clearly visible on every page of your website? Does your website look like one of those generic spammy sites that have stock art images (the happy family embracing in front of their new house—you know the ones I’m talking about), such that it’s devoid of your own content? See how that has nothing to do with the bits and the bytes?  The firm that’s making your website should be paid only to helping you convert better via more engaging content—not some weird blue animation that zips across the screen, but has nothing to do with convincing your prospects to call you.
  • The other half of your online program is to advertise.  The most beautiful site with the most compelling content is useless if nobody ever sees it. So you have to get found on Google, Facebook, and any other places that your prospects are looking. Just like the web designer that hides behind gobbedly-gook, the search engine optimization wizard likes to hide behind the curtain of Google’s complex algorithms. Nonsense.  Take out your business stick and ask how much traffic you’re getting and at what price. Then ask what the quality of the traffic is, since buying users who watch funny videos on YouTube might be worth a nickel, while a search on “mortgage refinance rates in {your city}” might be worth $10. Whoever does your advertising should make it clear what that traffic is costing them and how much they’re marking it up.  If they hem and haw about this point, perhaps because they have a “dynamic balancing algorithm” or some garbage, it probably means they are spending 10 to 20 cents of your dollar and pocketing the other 80 to 90 cents.
  Now that the commoners are running the temple, they (you) can get your web presence built for free on Google (they have a Places product) and Facebook (they have a Pages product).  Look for more detail on how in upcoming articles here.   About the author: Dennis Yu is Chief Executive Officer of BlitzLocal, which specializes in online lead gen for businesses that have a local presence. He is an internationally recognized author, having appeared on CBS Evening News, National Public Radio, KTLA, Entrepreneur Magazine, and other outlets. His blog is at dennis-yu.com and you can reach him at dennis@blitzlocal.com.



Is TILA-RESPA a good or bad thing long term?