If you’re like me, a fan of Billy Crystal, you’re probably familiar with his exaggerated impression of the Argentine-born film star Fernando Lamas, famously spoofed with his line, “It is better to look good than to feel good,” which Lamas shared on “The Tonight Show” many years ago. While that may be true for people, it’s not the case when it comes to websites. Today, a good-looking website simply isn’t enough, and can actually be a detriment if it isn’t “working” for you. Now may be the time for that website redesign you’ve been putting off.
If you’re from the generation which existed before websites, you’ll know they’ve evolved significantly over the years.
Today’s site need to be mobile-optimized, many should have an SSL certificate and be GDPR compliant. Terms and conditions should show up on the footer. Having a physical address is important. Clean lines are safer. Less is more, but sometimes more is more. No more hiding search terms in white on a white background. And Google is god. Period.
Got it? Good, because that’s just the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg.
A few years ago, a professional services firm asked us to “fix up” their website. Before the meeting, we reviewed the site and were pretty sure it had been developed years earlier when websites were new to the scene. In a word, it was awful. We soon discovered it had only recently been launched, having retained a firm that pretty much ripped them off. It was a disaster.
There was no intuitive navigation, no content offers, no pop-ups. Photos of the staff had all been taken at different times with different backgrounds. There were no matching stock images on the site. To find what you needed – as a client or a prospect – was just about impossible. And it was completely unattractive to boot!
These were not stupid people, but they didn’t know what to ask – or what their website development firm should have been asking them. They had no relationship with the firm, no trust, no references, and certainly no idea where they should have even begun.
We had to redo the site from scratch, not what either of us originally wanted or anticipated, but the site had been built on an antiquated platform and most of the site could be categorized in a blog titled “What not to do with a website.”
Before we began our work, we listened, asked a lot of questions, and gave the firm time to think about what they really wanted – and needed. We always start with a deep dive on the intended audience, but it was crucial to know a lot more about the firm, its practices, how it wanted to be perceived, how frequently they planned to add content, and much more. The discovery phase can and should take as long as needed to craft a plan and site map that can solve the needs of the client.
If you haven’t given much consideration to your firm’s website over the past few years, now may be the time. We often encourage people to use their down time on the beach, in the mountains, or on a plane to really give thought to what their company is, the story it tells, and mostly, how it’s different from its competitors.
Look at your site and ask yourself a few questions.
1. Is our website working for us?
2. Is it driving customers to us, keeping them on the site, capturing their email address, and positioning us as experts in our industry?
3. Does our site show what differentiates us from our competitors?
4. Are we offering content – free content – that will keep people on the site longer and possibly encourage them to reach out?
5. Do we use a back-end tool to capture email addresses so that we can follow up with potential clients and customers?
If you answered “no” to any of those questions, it may be time to consider updating your website. Google it. There are a million ideas out there on how to do it, when to do it, and what the site should have in a redesign.
But before you take that leap and make the investment, we invite you to answer the questions on this worksheet (questions we’d be asking you first). It will give you and your leadership team time to think about what you want in a new site – and what you don’t. Not everyone or every business needs to blog. Not every firm needs to have a back-end tool like HubSpot of Marketo. Not every business needs a custom-designed site. But every business does need a website that works for them.
When the time is right, we invite you to talk it through with us as a start. Even if we’re not the right firm for you, before you invest, talk to people you trust.
With apologies to Fernando Lamas, what you don’t want to hear is just “You look marvelous.” You want to hear your phone ringing.
Note: PPRA is composed of many distinct organizations and individuals, each with different perspectives and specializations in diverse areas of public relations. Many of these members’ websites feature blogs with valuable insights and advice, and we would like to make this content available to you. Periodically, we will repost content from member blogs. If you would like to see your company’s blog considered, email Stephen Krasowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.