ThinkstockPhotos-187312795One of the newer challenges facing companies today, is building and managing an effective website that actually produces value, or as it is known in some industries, ROI (Return On Investment). Hiring a web design firm that doesn’t fully understand your brand, how it cultivates your internal culture, or who makes up your brand community will likely result in an attractive website that does nothing to build your business.

There are lots of great web designers around today who are capable of building a nice looking website. If you have one of those businesses that just needs a nice looking website, then finding a talented web designer is pretty easy to do. However, if you have one of those businesses that needs a website to produce results, then finding a firm is much more difficult.

Because of the sophisticated elements and strategy required for effective SEO and visitor tracking needed on today’s sites, it is important to hire a team that is marketing savvy rather than just talented creatively. For a website to produce a strong return, the design team must fully understand what you do, why you do it, and who you do it for in order to be successful. In my experience, there are far fewer marketing professionals who build websites than there are graphic designer’s who sell their websites as marketing tools. So make your decision carefully. Commissioning a new website can be a big investment. And, building an ineffective website is even more expensive in sales and engagement losses.

This conundrum poses several challenges for many businesses. First, there is the added expense of having the marketing and design team audit your brand and branding prior to ever recommending a positioning strategy for what will become your online business presence. This is a vital step, especially if you aren’t able to provide them with the necessary branding statements they need to move to the next step. Another important consideration is their process for brand auditing. You should carefully vet their process and experience in this arena so you don’t wind up paying for expensive brand auditing that nets negligible results. Your web design team should be as familiar with, and knowledgeable about your brand as your CEO is by the time this phase is complete. If the chosen team lacks experience in brand auditing, then it may be necessary to retain a marketing consultant or firm to oversee the designer’s work.

The next challenge building sophisticated results-focused websites is getting the positioning and messaging correct. In other words, the content, headlines and call(s) to action. If these elements are off-brand, your website will cause a brand-disconnect with your brand community.  Many creative firms do not have the in-house capability to determine whether your new website’s content and position are on-brand. They may only be willing to flow in what you give them, leaving it to you to make sure all of the content is on-brand and properly positioning your company in the marketplace. If, however, they first conducted a proper brand audit, then this may not be an issue. They will be capable of correcting any disconnects they find as they flow your content into the website. Obviously, their immersion in your branding is even more important if they are responsible for providing some or all of the content for your site.

Modern websites rely heavily on content marketing for their effectiveness with search engines. Determining who will be responsible for adding new and relevant content to the website following the launch, should be handled before the website’s commissioning. You should ask yourself these questions: Do we have the capabilities in-house to assign someone the responsibility of updating, refreshing, and creating the new content for our site? Do we have the means to budget for an outside professional to handle the updating, refreshing, and content generation for us? Who will handle planning the content calendar, and managing the content marketing process?

As you can see, engaging a design team to build a new, modern, and sophisticated website for your business may not be as easy as the TV commercials make it out to be. When it comes to choosing a design/build team who has the talent and skill required for building a website that works for your business, you really do get what you pay for in the end.