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The 7 Website Monsters

October 8, 2013

MainPoseAt Leading Results, it’s not unusual for us to be brought in to fix messes.

An often expensive mess that we get called on to repair is the company website.  I’m convinced that this is often because there is a prevailing myth in the business community that website work can be done (well) by one person.

I’m not sure if that was ever true, and I know it’s certainly not true today.  A good website team has the six skills that follow - and rarely does a single person have more than two of them covered.

So what does this mean for you?

You should be looking for a firm that has the following “heads.”  Sometimes, they are internal people, often times, they are alliance partner with or the firm utilizes freelancers.

There is a reason why Hubspot actively tries to match vendors with Value Added Partners - because those partners usually have more of the web and marketing functions covered than a small to medium business typically will have covered when working on their own.

Monster 1) The Strategist:

The Marketing Strategist is, simultaneously, the most and least useful member of the website team.   A website done without the input and thought of the strategy of who you are looking to reach, why, and how is almost certainly a website that will reach nobody, be confusing to look at and will convert very few people.

A good strategist will discuss concepts such as:

  • Marketing funnels/straws/paths
  • Content/Educational strategies
  • Alternate ways to promote and or utilize the website presence.

Monster 2) The Graphic Designer

The graphic designer is most typically what you see on the local level of talent when you are looking for a website.

The upside:

The Graphic Designer will make your website look awesome, correctly color matched, and beautiful.  This elegance of design cannot be overstated as a key part of the website design team.

The Downside:

The Graphic Designer likely hasn’t had a lick of marketing or cognitive psychology formal training.  They do know what looks good.  They don’t know what motivates people to buy, and often struggle with implementing key website design features that might get people to (gasp) actually buy something from your website.

Be concerned when:  The graphic designer wants to re-do your logo, do some “Branding” and “get your name out there”

Monster 3) The Programmer

The Programmer is the person who can make your website do some pretty awesome things that really make you stand out from the competition.  If your web person talks about Cold Fusion, Ruby on Rails, Drupal, Joomla or Adobe (anything), they are likely from the programmer camp.

The Upside:

Your website will be likely be a technological wonder, able to deliver custom pages to everyone who visits with simple ease and effortless ease.  If you ask “Can my website do ____ and the answer is always “I think so, let me try” you are talking to a programmer.

The Downsides:

1) The programmer is usually mostly interested in doing “interesting” projects.  If you just want a basic website for your business, steer clear, as a programmers inclination is to make it interesting.  If you have the budget for interesting- Awesome!

2) Price:  Programmers are usually the most expensive team members.  And once your programmers start making custom code, they are also the hardest to replace, as it’s rumored that no two programmers who haven’t been working together specifically, can either replicate or work with any other programmer's code.

Monster 4) The UX designer (User eXperience)

This is a newer head to come to the website design arena.  They don’t program.  They rarely write.  These are website folks usually focused on website conversions and always focused on traffic patterns within your website.  Their tools are analytics, heat maps and split A/B testing.   These folks usually come from the psychology field, so expect to look at numbers and graphs when talking to them.

The Upside:

UX trained Web people are really, really good at turning visitors into prospects, and prospects into sales.  They can work with amazingly ugly, basic sites and make them very profitable indeed.

The Downsides:

1)    Cost -  UX designers are in demand right now and they know it they are often similar to programmers in cost, and can be more if you have one with bonafide credentials.  Don’t get me wrong- they can absolutely be worth it.

2)    Resource intensive -  Most User Experience people are rather worthless as programmers, SEOs and graphic designers, and only marginal copywriters.  They can be decent project managers in a pinch, as User Experience designers need tons of resources to optimize a website.  Why?  Because they will, given the freedom to, design hundreds of variations on your website and drive traffic there to experiment on what works and what doesn’t.

Monster 5) The SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

There is some discussion about the overall usefulness in Search Engine Optimization that I discussed here (http://www.leadingresults.com/why-seo-is-dying-and-how-to-win-anyway/).

The SEO’s job is to drive website traffic.  Keep in mind- if nobody sees your website, it might as well not exist.  SEO’s tend to vary the most of any of the archtypes.  There are some very, very good ones, and some very, very poor ones.

The Upside:

The SEO (should) deliver traffic to your website.  Lots of it, ideally.  If you have no traffic, why do you bother having a website?

The Downside:

    •  SEO’s can be expensive- you get what you pay for is a loose rule of thumb that applies here more than most.
    • The world of SEO changes very rapidly, as Google and SEO firms have an evolving “frenemy” relationship.
    • Most SEO firms haven’t evolved in their processes to account for the changes in the world of SEO.

Monster 6) The Copywriter

The Copywriter is sometimes mistaken for a UX, but they (usually) come from very different backgrounds.

Copywriters write good website materials.

Copywriters write good, desirable, downloadable content.

Copywriters make people want to stay on your site and read more content, which copywriters are content to produce.

The Upside:

A good copywriter increases website ‘stickyness’ with quality content worth reading (and watching if they are scripting you-tube, et. al videos). A really good copywriter is a part salesperson, and is good at driving engagement that leads to conversions.

There are often surprisingly good copywriters who come from places you wouldn’t expect, as it’s a great job for ex-pat native English speakers, and when you are living in India (for example) American dollars pay for a lot of quality writing services (and coffee).

 The Downside:

Great Copywriters are hard to find, harder to keep on schedule, and, more than any of the other Website team members, must be kept in a constant stream of coffee.  Most copywriters aren’t really trained for the job, as learning how to become a great copywriter is something that almost nobody has taken a class in, yet alone had professional, focused training for.

Monster 7) The Project Manager

The Project Manager may, or may not have any of the above skills- but their job is very important if you are having more than 2 people work together.  Sadly, sometimes their job is also very important when you have 1 person working without a steady infusion of coffee.

The Upside:

The project manager should be able to get things done, know where all the pieces ought to fit, and be similar to a conductor at an orchestra- making sure all of the components combine to a solution that is far greater than any individual contribution.

The Downside:

Good Project managers cost money, and poor project managers cost money and sometimes actually detract from overall value.  A good project manager often talks marketing strategy, and can give valuable input where the website should tie into all of the other elements of marketing that you are/should be doing.

I recommend the following action steps:

Ask what your web designer what they do best, and what was their training in?  You should get an idea of what one or two areas they do best.  If they say they do everything well, ask who they partner with.

If that answer is nobody, assume they do nothing particularly well, and only consider them for projects where quality isn’t important, and price is.

If you have a budget, strongly consider finding a ‘project manager’ with a track record.  They should have knowledge and experience in making the pieces work together enough to give you peace of mind.

If you’d ask me “ Have I ever run into a website designer that really was good at everything having to do with a website?”  I’d tell  you no. Because here’s the thing;  Each one of these fields, if you put any weight on Seth Godin’s “The Dip”, needs roughly 10,000 hours to be genuinely good at.  Two of those fields: User Experience and SEO are changing rapidly enough that even if you had worked over 10,000 hours previously, you now need another 5,000 to fully integrate the differences from being a true expert as recently as 3 years ago.  That level of dedication is really hard.  And all but impossible if you are maintaining high level skills at any of the other fields.

So how does Leading Results solve this dilemma:

We had this dilemma ourselves for a long time.  It’s how we learned a lot about it as we kept working with sub-contractors who had one of the following personas.   This is one of the primary reasons that we created a team around building effective, results orientated websites, within reasonable price and time constraints.

For us, as of this writing: Our team is:

Monster 1) The Strategist:

This is where Leading Results started, and where we are strongest.  Dan Kraus, Laura Lorenz and Randy Aimone are all accomplished strategists.

Monster 2) The Graphic Designer

Our awesome designer, Darling Jiminez has a degree in Computer Science and design.

Monster 3) The Programmer

See above - Darling

Monster 4) The UX designer (User eXperience)

Randy Aimone has training and experience in building User Interfaces, and has done advanced research in human factors design

Monster 5) The SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Randy Aimone has some crazy ideas about Search Engine Optimization- That it should be measured in traffic and conversions, not where key-phrases rank.

Monster 6) The Copywriter

Courtney Wachob is our editor that tirelessly works with writers to produce content, and she edits that content for quality and a consistent voice. 

Monster 7) The Project Manager.

Randy Aimone, Laura Lorenz and Dan Kraus are our Project Managers, making sure website projects are done on time, on budget, and deliver industry leading results.

So if your website isn’t working the way you’d expect, give us a ring.

Written by leadingresults

Leading Results helps businesses stop wasting money on marketing and improves their business development results by putting POWER in their marketing. The POWER is the Processes, Organizational Support, Why (you do what you do), Expertise and Refer-ability. You get strategy, tactics and execution. We work with both individual businesses and businesses as part of a larger ecosystem. Be more profitable.

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