A website project is not the time to bring all the bells and whistles your development and leadership teams can do, it’s time to make strategic decisions.
Websites as a marketing tool
When it comes to brand exposure and demand generation, your website is the sun around which all other strategies orbit. If you’re selling a B2B product or service, it’s hard to imagine a buying process that doesn’t include a website visit. And while you’ve heard that 70% of the buying process is done before customers contact you, there’s good evidence that the buyer’s journey is even more complex than that.
While your website may not be the first contact a customer has with your brand, it’s likely to be the main face: a key showcase for your message, a lead capture machine, filling the pipeline through of forms, chatbots or other contact methods. It acts as a powerful sales enablement tool and helps unsuitable prospects self-select outside of the buying process. You can showcase your services, demo your products, and guide your customer on how you stand out from the competition. There is no shortage of jobs for your site, and this provides plenty of opportunity for mistakes.
None of these things require a significant investment in custom development. Wix (NASDAQ: WIX), the popular SaaS website building company, runs its marketing site on, you guessed it, Wix.
But if you ask a professional developer to build you a site on that platform, they’ll likely resist the suggestion. Instead, why not consider one of the other 1936 solutions out there? (No, I’m not making that number up.)
Great – There are many reasons to select a content management system that aligns with your needs. But Wix made over $1 billion last year, so before you go all-in on a fancy custom solution, make sure you’re solving the right problems with your investment.
Here are four areas you should invest in:
Tools and toys for users
These can come in the form of calculators, configurators, lead magnets, etc. that provide additional value to customers. This is a great place to invest development dollars and an easy place to see ROI.
Security and resiliency
You are making a great investment, make sure you protect it. Development operations (devops) and security functionality are key to the longevity of your site. Don’t skimp here.
Most organizations, even large ones, rely on a small team or one individual for all of their web updates. They may not be designers at heart, so make sure the tool you build for them has protections to keep the brand going.
Flexibility and Agility
6 months ago, we rebuilt a website for a multi-million dollar organization that did not have a content management system (CMS). Every change made to the website required the help of a professional web developer. As expected, it was outdated and confusing. Do not make the same mistake.
don’t waste your money
Please. Marketing dollars are pretty hard to come by, we don’t want to see you throw yours away.
Three areas of no return:
Building Features Nobody Wants
This one’s for you, C-Suite: The easiest way to waste money on web development is to try to build something you think is really good, but that none of your users need. The guilty party here is almost always someone with a lot of power that the team wants to please. Ask your users what they want and trust them.
Reinventing the wheel
Don’t let a developer talk you into a CMS of your own. There are too many good out-of-the-box solutions to spend your money on solving the problem of how to make words appear on a web page. I don’t care if you go for WordPress, Hubspot, CraftCMS or any other equally good option, just don’t make your own.
“Save money” by investing little
Finding the right equipment is essential. There is always a lower priced option, but the tradeoff is almost guaranteed to be either talent or timeline. Typically, very little talent will show up in an insecure or fragile infrastructure that is expensive to maintain. Timeline issues mean your site is half-finished on a server somewhere where no one can see it, tying up your investment and generating no return.
Build what works for your team
Did you make a small change to your go-to-market message? Make sure it is reflected on the site. New changes in the offer of a product or service? Your website is the spearhead for that information. From SEO and CRO, there is a world of ongoing efforts that must be considered in order to know the market and win. But whatever you do, don’t waste your money on bells and whistles that don’t serve your business.
John Gough is Senior Director of Web and Digital Strategy at element threea marketing consultancy.