Creating a Knockout Website
Creating a Robust Website Means Asking Tough Questions
by Kevin Romo-Leon
The perfect website does not exist. Designs voted as pretty don't cut it and optimized SEO is quickly losing momentum. A marketing professional cannot personally declare a great website. Nor can the expert promise specific results. As frustrating as these (learned) truths may seem, your website remains your most powerful marketing tool.
Website opportunities are a responsibility. Take initiative to ask questions, and a lot of them! Your best first question, "How will this make me money?" Don't settle for indirect responses. If it doesn't make sense, demand a better answer.
Marketing is about connecting the customer to your product (nothing different from what you're used to). With the help of a web developer, the digital world can accelerate these connections. Your site's final product mirrors your leadership. Ask questions that match your business goals. To support your authority, we've crafted the following strategy.
Any question you ask falls within two categories:
1. Easy to answer
2. Hard to answer
A quick Google search for, "What questions should I ask my web developer?" produces a healthy set of results. Common lists include cost, timeline, hosting location, management access and design features all important discussion topics. Although relevant to website production, these suggestions don't tell you how to gain more customers. Easy-to-answer questions often reflect their limited impact on sales revenue.
Questions that are hard to answer expand your product's potential. These questions push creative limits, challenge strong beliefs and set higher standards. Because of their nature to make us think really, really hard, the best solutions are rarely achieved.
The ego gives up before patience and persistence can fully pay off. The truth is left unrevealed and we settle for answers that sound good.
Tough questions require a willingness to explore the unknown. These learning curves don't have to be extensive, but they must be purposeful. One step back, two steps forward. Learn more about the decisions you have to make. It's not necessary to attain expert status (that's why we hire resources) but knowing enough to approve (with confidence) well-suited ideas is worth the results at stake.
Embrace the questions "How are you making me money?" and "This thing that you are building, how much money will it make me?"
We've been taught to judge value based on resumes, references and explanations of skill sets. Past experiences help move the hiring process along but are not reliable for leveraging current business goals. A worthy professional can easily relate their work to the bottom line. Success is best packaged with honesty and accountability with no hard feelings attached. Your business relies on cash flow, which relies on valuable work, which relies on professionals who care about making
PERSEVERE THROUGH THE PROCESS
Practice patience. The questions most people give up on are the same ones which will yield a higher return on investment.
So ask your web developer the hard questions.
- Why do users respond to this design?
- How does this process connect the product to the consumer?
- Does this function convert traffic into paying customers?
Also important to consider are actions that unintentionally ‘waste' resources. The developer's creative mind can quickly deviate from adding perceived value to your website. Be aware of ‘cool' ideas that lose relevance.
When intentions are disconnected, simply remind your expert of your business goals. Ask these questions to ensure the quality of your investment:
- What does this do?
- Why is it important?
Their answers should be an interpretation of how to gain one more customer. If not, the effort will be a better fit elsewhere.
The decision process starts before meeting with your web developer. It begins with you and a focused energy. Your laptop, a notebook and even a cup of coffee are invited, but anyone who will try to sell their ideas is strictly prohibited. This time to yourself is sacred. It is a time of reflection on what really matters to your business. Ask questions that clarify your entire web- site strategy (going forward):
- Why is my facility the best in the area?
- Why would the consumer choose my competitor?
- Why will they call me?
- Why will they reserve a unit?
- Why don't they move in?
Now that objectives are clear, an effective action plan can be brainstormed. This is where you trust
another professional's technical skills. A meeting with your web developer extends the decision process by finding a balance in workflow. Sharing business emotions, understanding logistics and planning for scalability are rarely straightforward conversations. Lead by asking them questions that assume the growth of your facility:
- How can my design and marketing teams collaborate with you?
- What user conversions are the highest priority?
- What wins can we celebrate?
Hard questions require adjusted expectations. Be prepared for ideas to be challenged and don't anticipate perfect answers. It's all part of the process. A mutual respect for professional abilities will achieve higher levels of work. Practice patience. The questions most people give up on are the same ones which will yield a higher return on investment.
Better website interactions reward the effort of establishing a partnership that shares a common vision. After the completion of all agreed web projects, a shared responsibility exists. Questions you and your developer should be able to answer:
- Which website feature is converting the most customers?
- What can improve the user experience?
- What data can help make smarter marketing decisions?
Working with your web developer is a revolving process. It has no definitive stopping point. Making progress relies on continual self-reflection, discussion and analysis—all of which you control.
Mostly because of distractions and everyday stresses, we opt to avoid questions that complicate things.
However, marketing opportunities are too important for a passive attitude. Questions for your web developer are worth thorough explanation. As a favor to your website investment, do not be impressed by their immediate responses.
- Quick answers DO NOT prove credibility.
- Short answers DO NOT save time.
- Familiar answers DO NOT satisfy concerns.
Submitting to answers that sound good is very tempting. Out of the need to make decisions and move the day along, not every answer can be critically addressed. But when something doesn't quite resonate, explore further by asking different sets of questions. Everyone has it wrong—there really is such a thing as a ‘bad' question. It's the one you fail to ask.
My favorite question is, "Why?" "Why this way?" "Why not that way?" "Why is this happening?" "Why does it matter?" "Why is it relevant?" Curiosity is the world of opportunity. The moment we stop asking "why" will be obvious. The websites we design will look boring, bounce rates will surge and web reservations will be negatively affected. These digital marketing fears keep our specialists asking, "Why?!"
COLLECTION OF DATA
You and/or your web team should be able to answer the following questions:
- What is the data telling us?
- What can we learn from these numbers?
- What actions can be better measured?
The emotional labor of answering these questions is a small investment. Although it creates a short delay in work production, expanding our comfort zone is insightful. We discover untapped potential and find a new appreciation for our work. We begin to see how minor adjustments impact the marketing ecosystem as a whole. A website's true power is revealed with even harder questions:
- What can we integrate?
- What can we automate?
- Where can we spend more to make more?
Responding with, "I don't know," is perfectly acceptable. For us, it's an honest response that is highly respected. The right answer must prove its validity over time. With this awareness, we make better use of our day mapping the lessons we’ve learned. We prepare ourselves for big changes in technology and consumer behavior. We build for growth.
Online marketing promotions or web-only pricing strategies are not sustainable business decisions. More responsibly, build a website consumers actually care about. Create a product that has an emotional effect. Customize every detail to satisfy their digital shopping habits.
Start by declaring what your business stands for and find a developer who shares those principles. Together, as marketing partners, figure out the best way to connect the consumer with your product. Asking the hard questions sets a new project standard. A great website is born when your web developer takes the initiative to ask, "What is a customer worth to you?"