These days, a compelling online presence is crucial for business success. Yet, surprisingly, many business owners and executives still undervalue the importance of professional web design agencies and their services. This oversight can hinder a company's ability to grow and compete effectively in today's digital marketplace. While we have studied this issue in the past, in this post, we will explore the various reasons behind this phenomenon and why business owners should reevaluate this stance, which is essential for the growth and sustainability of businesses.
They Haven't Seen The Competition
The desire to outperform the competition is at the heart of every entrepreneur, myself included. Nothing fires me up more than looking and seeing what my counterparts at other agencies are doing. Often, management is focused on so many other factors of the business's day-to-day operations that they fail to look and see what the competition is doing from a digital perspective. As we all know, your website is the easiest way for potential clients to see what you are all about. Within seconds, they have an indication of your company and its offerings and generally get an idea of the culture. Existing clients do the same thing - they look at your site and study your competition as well, looking for any possible edge. Management that is not motivated to clean up their digital experience has most likely not looked at the landscape of their competitors.
Of course, knowing what they are doing is one thing, but being able to surpass their capabilities is where the idea of value comes into play. I rarely see a potential client come to me and wish to replicate or emulate a competitor's website that went the cheap route in building their web presence. It is always aspirational. This is typically the starting point for reeducation in terms of the value of web design, in general.
They Overlook the Impact of Web Design
At the heart of the matter is that many business owners and executives still fundamentally misunderstand what a web design project entails and its significance for a business. A well-crafted website is more than just a digital address; it's a platform for storytelling, brand building, and customer engagement. It serves as the first point of contact for many potential customers, setting the tone for their impression of the business. However, many business owners perceive their website as merely a necessary digital asset, not recognizing its potential as a strategic tool for marketing and sales. This is a tremendous missed opportunity, as the web offers the one and only way for many businesses to have an intimate experience with current or potential customers. It’s like a salesperson who works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without a break.
They Are Navigating Budget Constraints
For many small and medium-sized businesses, budget constraints play a significant role in their decision-making processes. Investing in a professionally designed website can seem daunting when funds are limited. Consequently, web design is often seen as a non-essential expense, with resources allocated to areas perceived as offering more immediate returns. This perspective fails to consider the long-term benefits and ROI that a well-designed website can bring, such as increased customer engagement and higher conversion rates.
Always maddening to professionals in the business is the amount of waste that goes into other areas of focus for executives and business owners. I recall many times in the past when we would visit client offices that undoubtedly cost an arm and a leg to lease, with furnishings that easily surpassed the price of any work we were about to propose. Now, in a post-COVID era, those offices sit empty, and those investments yielded a near-total loss. Yet the web goes on and on!
They Have a DIY Mentality in the Digital Age
The rise of do-it-yourself website builders has empowered business owners to take web design into their own hands. While these tools offer a basic level of functionality and aesthetics, they typically lack the uniqueness and effectiveness of a custom-designed website. This DIY approach can lead to underestimating the value of a professional's creativity, technical skills, and understanding of digital marketing strategies. A professional web designer creates a visually appealing site and ensures it is optimized for user experience and search engines while also aligning with the business’s overall objectives.
The gap in performance between the DIY model and a professionally designed website is also something to be considered. DIY sites tend to be bloated in their size and codebase, leading to negative performance. In addition, they also tend to be accessibility nightmares and security hazards. There is a reason that DIY websites fail to achieve high-ranking SEO results – they are not in line with the preferences Google has laid out for high-ranking sites.
Lack of Comfort With Technological Changes and Web Design Trends
The web design industry is dynamic, with new trends and technologies emerging continuously. Keeping up with these changes can be overwhelming for business owners or executives who are not experts in the field. This constant evolution can sometimes lead to a perception that web design is excessively complex or rapidly becomes outdated, further fueling the undervaluation.
However, staying current with web design trends is crucial for maintaining a relevant and competitive online presence. This is why it is so important to get your web development project built properly from day one. Sites built in a sloppy manner by “developers” who install a variety of themes and templates will inevitably be harder to iterate to keep up with changing trends and technologies. It saves money, in the long run, to do things properly from day one – focusing on a custom design with a lightweight codebase that is not overly reliant on plug-ins and extensions.
Negative Past Experiences and Industry Misconceptions
Hiring a digital agency is difficult, to say the least. Previous negative experiences with web design agencies can also lead to a reluctance to invest in professional web design. Issues such as overpromising, underdelivering, lack of transparency, or hidden costs can leave business owners wary of future engagements. Additionally, some businesses, especially those less reliant on digital marketing historically, may not see the need for a strong online presence, underestimating its importance in today's increasingly digital marketplace. We’ve written about this often in the past, and sadly, there are many players in the web design industry who have no idea what they are doing, leading to sunk costs and, inevitably, a lack of trust in the process. It’s important to properly vet contractors and vendors to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. It’s also important to remember that the less you spend, the more risk you take – meaning – you get what you pay for.
They Can't Find or Measure ROI
Another significant hurdle is the difficulty in quantifying the immediate return on investment for a professionally designed website. Unlike direct marketing or sales efforts, the benefits of a high-quality website are not always immediately apparent. This challenge can make it hard for business owners to plan a budget, justify the investment, especially when the results are more long-term and not easily measurable in the short run. It makes sense when determining how you wish to execute your new website design project to lay out some metrics of success or goals that you hope for the designer to achieve.
There are also other financial models that you can utilize to alleviate your risk. IE, would you be willing to pay a web design firm a royalty on the performance of their site? That minimizes your risk substantially and limits the reward as you’ll have to share it with the designer. However, in some cases, this type of arrangement could make sense – and should be considered.
They Perceive Web Design as a One-Time Task
A common misconception, and perhaps one of the most problematic among business owners, is viewing web design as a one-off project rather than an ongoing process. Websites require regular updates, maintenance, and content refreshes to stay relevant and effective. This ongoing need is often underestimated, leading to the belief that once a website is built, it no longer requires professional attention. In reality, the evolving nature of the digital landscape demands continuous engagement with web design experts to ensure that the website remains secure, functional, and aligned with the latest trends.
This is so important a concept that on introductory calls we always ask clients what level of ongoing commitment they are willing to make in terms of their site. An unwillingness to invest anything in the maintenance and upkeep of a site over time makes them a less appealing candidate for our services.
Overwhelmed by Choices and Quality Differentiation
The market is flooded with web design agencies and freelancers, each offering a myriad of services. This abundance of choices can be overwhelming for business owners, making it challenging to discern the quality and value of these services. Consequently, this can lead to a general devaluation of web design services, as business owners might perceive them as interchangeable commodities. However, the expertise, experience, and customized approach offered by professional agencies are unique and can significantly impact the effectiveness of a business's online presence. As stated earlier in this post, properly evaluating is essential – but sadly, many businesses aren’t sure how to do that. We always say that the key things to look for are experience and personality. Have they done projects similar to yours in the past? Do they seem uncertain about how to execute? Can they provide references? And finally – can you get along with them? Because the success of collaborative efforts often comes down to personalities – letting that get in the way of a positive outcome is always a problem that could be avoided.
Failure to Align Business Goals with Web Design
Another key aspect is aligning web design with overall business objectives. A website should not only be aesthetically pleasing but also functional in a way that aligns with the company's goals, whether it's generating leads, increasing sales, or enhancing customer engagement. Professional web designers work closely with clients to ensure that the website's design, content, and functionality support these goals. Freelancers, or less experienced website themers or editors, have less knowledge of goal-oriented design and are more focused on only the design element. If a designer speaks more about trends or design elements than they do action and results, there is definitely something missing. Of course, design plays an essential role, but it needs to be focused on guiding users to a desired outcome and not simply looking pretty. There is a major difference between a UI/UX expert and a designer.
The undervaluation of web design agencies represents a missed opportunity for many businesses. As digital platforms continue to dominate the commercial landscape, the need for professional, well-crafted websites becomes increasingly critical. It's not just about having an online presence; it's about having an effective, dynamic, and strategically aligned presence that resonates with the target audience and supports business growth. The web has been and will continue to be the most cost-effective asset your business can build when you take into consideration the relative cost of physical improvements, payroll expenses, and marketing budgets.