Focus Wins Over Pretty Design

Something I often say, “If you don’t have a business plan for your website, you don’t have a website.” Something I have been saying all of 2010, “Make your site do something.”

Yesterday one of my coworkers sent me a link to a comic titled “How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell“. I’m sure many of you have seen it, but if not, it’s about how a site owner hires a webmaster to redesign their site. The webmaster does a great job, the client loves it, but then pecks away at it, slowly turning it into a Frankenstein of a website, just the way it looked when it started.

boyds toast store - screenshot from comic

Looking at the shot above though, if the objective of the website was to get visitors to call, it might actually be a success.

My oldest client, one that I have had since 1996, has a similar site to the screenshot above. Every few years they bring me on to redo their site, and make it look more modern. I do, they love it, and just like the comic, they slowly have me replace chunk after chunk until it’s nearly identical to the original site. What’s going on?

Their reasoning at first appears hidden to me, but after the numbers start rolling in it all becomes very clear. They have a plan, they know what they want the site to do, and it does it, really well.

Though the site I have built for them lacks visual appeal it makes up for by being well designed to meet its business purpose. It’s one of my busiest sites that I manage, one with the lowest bounce rate, and a site that gets email subscribers faster than any site I manage. How they do it? It’s all about the plan, and staying focused on making the website do something.

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