If you’ve shopped around for someone to build your website or asked for referrals from friends, you’ve probably heard this one before: “I know computers. I can build your site.” Or how about, “My IT guy is working on my site.” This type of thinking makes me cringe, and after you read this, hopefully it’ll make you cringe, too.
When you think of websites, you probably think of computers and technology. And when you think of IT, you most likely think of the same thing. It makes sense, but it can wreak havoc with your marketing plans because a website may be built on technology but it is not a function of technology. In fact, one of the last things you should be thinking about when you plan your website is technology.
I heard your shocked gasp.
That’s right, I said don’t think about technology when planning your site. Think about your business goals first. Think about your message and your audience, what you want people to do once they visit your site and how you plan to use it to make money, promote your business or perform some other relevant function.
Once you know that, then you can decide which available technology will best help you meet those goals. If you want to promote your services or sell your products, you can do it with or without any particular technology. The key is to use the tools at your disposal to your advantage – and not to let them dictate your goals.
Repeat after me: Business goals come before technology.
Ultimately, a website is a component of a marketing and communication strategy, much like your brochures, business cards, social platforms and email campaigns. You would not expect your IT department or “computer guy” to develop your site any more than you would expect them to design brochures or business cards.
The technology discipline of an IT professional is entirely different than the technology knowledge required by a web developer. While your IT professional should be proficient in areas such as network infrastructure, server technology, hardware and software maintenance and data backups, your web developer must be knowledgeable in HTML, CSS, user interface, best practices and other considerations that impact the effectiveness of your site.
Your computer guy may be a whiz at getting rid of a virus but he is probably not a marketing professional. Your IT guy can probably run a super clean network connection but he is not a user interface designer. There may be some skill overlap. A web developer can probably remove a virus and an IT professional can probably write some code. But the proficiencies are worlds apart.
Even within web development itself there are different areas of expertise. There are designers who are proficient in graphical elements, color and typography; programmers who can build databases and dynamic interactive experiences; user interface designers who understand usability and eye tracking; copywriters who are versed in SEO techniques. If your head is spinning yet, imagine how the poor guy who sets up your anti-virus feels.
Repeat after me: A website is about marketing, not about technology.
The bottom line is that your IT professional may try to rise to the task, whether to make you happy or make some extra money, but you’d be wiser to invest elsewhere. Next time someone tells you their IT guy can build your website, or says “I know computers, I can do it” you know it’s time to nod your head, politely decline and walk quickly in the opposite direction.