Digital Marketing Blog

Why Do I Need A Web Designer

  • By Brad Poirier
  • 02 Feb, 2016

Is a DIY website builder the way to go or hire a pro?

Why Do I Need A Web Designer
Why Do I Need A Web Designer
There are a plethora of free website builders out there, so why would you need to pay someone to do this for you? Some of the most popular choices are Wordpress, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Shopify and GoDaddy's website builder. These all have their pros and cons, and to be transparent, none of these are really a bad choice. So if there's a free option, or a low cost option out there, why pay someone your hard earned money to build a website for you? Well consider some of pros and cons below.

1. Free verses paid upgrades

Most of the popular website builders I mentioned above offer a free option. Sounds great, until you start looking at the details. For instance, the free option usually doesn't allow for your own domain. Nothing will scream "no-thought-startup-business" more than having to list your website address as: - It's tacky.

Almost all of the free options will serve advertisements on your website. To offset the cost of you not paying them, they have agreements to have advertisements automatically appear on your website. Don't get excited, you don't get paid out for them. In some cases, you'll have ads with your competitor in them. Can you place a value on that?

Other downsides to the free model is the limited features. They all have tiered plans. You'll likely end up having to upgrade to one of their $5 or $10 or so plans.
The upside is, that it IS FREE. If you're literally just starting up that lemonade stand, free is for me until life starts turning those lemons into profitable lemonade. In my humble opinion, Wordpress offers the best free option. Their upgrades are fairly low-cost and they have an incredible support group since it's so widely used.

2. The oil change theory

I have this working theory that website design is just like an oil change, or any other car maintenance for that matter. I am not mechanically inclined by any means. At best, I'm able to change the brakes on my car without any help now. (So if you need your brakes done, I work on the cheap). Oil changes however, scare me. I've yet to attempt an oil change on my own. Could I do it? Very likely. I know how to put my Jeep on the lift or on jack stands and I know where the oil plug is. It doesn't  look complicated, but why do those auto shops get $90 for a synthetic oil change when I can buy the oil and filter for $30? Because they do it right and they do it quick. If I was brave enough to tackle the oil change on my own, it would likely be an all afternoon project and involve a lot of beer drinking afterward. (Actually, that's not so bad) There's a possibility I will also forget a step, like forgetting to plug the oil drain back and then the oil leaks everywhere. For me, paying $80 or $90 is well worth it every 3 to 4 months for that peace of mind and having someone else do it, which also saves me a lot of time.

Can you build your own website without the aid of a professional? It's very likely. Many have done this. I've seen some great looking websites that have excellent styling, strong call to actions and good design all made by a small business owner like yourself. So why have a professional do this?

A professional web designer will know what he's doing. He's not looking at an instruction sheet or waiting on the phone with the web hosting company's tech support for an hour (and if he is, you're not the one waiting!). A pro knows what great website design looks like, and is familiar with the latest web design trends and standards. He should also be familiar with conversions. Really, does it matter if you have an eye-catching website if no one ever becomes a customer? And if your web designer is from Breeze Digital Media, they'll know website personalization like the back of their hand, or keyboard.

For a simple five page website, I spend on average 4-6 hours on that website. There's a lot that goes into building a great, converting website. Do you have the time and the experience to handle that? If you do, hats off to you! If you don't, you're probably in the same boat as the greater majority of business owners who just don't have the time, the skill or both to handle a great website build.

The good news to this? All of our websites come with an easy to use Content Management System, or CMS. The CMS is where you, the business owner, can make quick and easy updates to your website whenever you need. We'll do the initial heavy lifting and then you just ride the wave. We also offer plans to make regular updates to your website, however many find our CMS is easy to use and saves them time during their update process. 

Want to learn more about a professionally designed website?

Head over to our contact us page, or our free consultation page where you can request a free mockup to be delivered where you can then decide to move forward with hiring us or not. If you choose not to hire us, we forgive you for your bad decisions, but we'll still shake hands and be friends. If you decide to move forward, you'll be among the many success stories our customers have testified to already.
What do you think? Do you think it's better to hire a professional designer or try out the DIY versions yourself? We'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Breeze Digital Media News & Resources

By Brad Poirier 18 Oct, 2017

Deadlines. Employees. Networking. Accounting. Advertising. HR. – The Party Planning Committee.

As a small business owner, you likely wear many hats.

“Wait, now I have to wear a marketing hat also?”

Well the short answer is no, you don’t have to. It really depends on how competitive you want to be in your industry.

Your big competitors invest lots of time and money into marketing their business, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Outsourcing your digital marketing to a digital marketing agency can both improve your lead quality and improve your overall ROI.

Let me explain.

By Brad Poirier 15 Aug, 2017
We are a visual society, so you should be using at least one of these options on your website.

Just like website design ranges from no use of images to the overuse of them, same is true with icons today. More than ever, some webpages are being cluttered with icons, that often add no context to the page or just add nothing to the user experience.

When is it good to use an icon on your website? Here's a few criteria I follow plus some resources for putting icons on your website.
By Brad Poirier 13 Jul, 2017
What’s more important to you: A shiny trophy for being number one on Google or a boat load of new clients coming your way.

Yes, we have said before that the number one position on Google gets 33% of the traffic for that keyword, but what do you see coming up as number one now-a-days?

Local Directories come up first. Do a quick Google search for anything local business related, for instance "restaurants near me". I did this search, and not one result on the first page was from a local business website. ALL of the first 10 results were local review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and OpenTable.

Now to be fair, there were three local results that appeared first, in what we call the Google Snack Pack. Before the website results, Google displays three locations from Google Maps, which is also very important. For websites though, it was all local directories.
By Brad Poirier 18 May, 2017
There's pros and cons to this type of Facebook post. The pro, well, you're making an attempt to create business. The cons? How do you set an expiration date on that? Even if you indicate one in the post, there could be that customer that just says "oh, I didn't see that". Further, how do you keep track of it? Are you going to write down on a sheet of paper every time someone comes in and says "Hey, I saw this post on Facebook". Also, not everyone wants to mention that. People want to present coupons and get a deal, they don't want to announce that they're getting a deal.

There is a much better way to accomplish what you are trying to do. You may have seen it, used it, tried it, but here's how to get the most out of the post type called "Offer". Watch the video below to see an example or read below.
By Brad Poirier 10 May, 2017

Chances are the website you’re using for your business is using Wordpress. Why? Because right now,  Wordpress powers 26% of the web   ...worldwide. That’s an overwhelming market share. In the past, my experience using Wordpress has been for some personal blogs, never as a commercial website. For the past few years working as a web designer, I have been using a version of  Zurb’s Foundation Framework   to develop websites. I’ve stayed away from Wordpress for many reasons, which I’ll explain below.

I figured though: If Wordpress powers 26% of the web, it can’t be all that bad though right? Wrong. Sure, Wordpress has it’s advantages, namely in the blogging area. It still is the go-to platform of choice for blogging. Here’s the thing though: Wordpress was never meant to be a website builder. It just evolved that way. What started off as an independent project grew into the global name it is today. The entire platform though, is supported mainly by community members. Try calling a Wordpress support number. Nope. Doesn’t exist.

To really put Wordpress to the test though, I had to actually go through and build a full site, not just a blog page. Well certainly, I wasn’t going to waste my time at work building a client’s website on Wordpress. I decided to build one for myself. I have a photography hobby, and so I chose to build a photography portfolio. 15 hours later, I have an OK performing website with 3 pages setup plus some gallery pages. I am a professional designer and it took me 15 hours to get it somewhat polished.

I logged my experience every step of the way, and so here’s all of my pain points and some of the positives that came out of this experience. Overall I can tell you, though, it’s about as horrible as I expected it to be. I am more certain now than ever, that I never want to develop websites using Wordpress. I can see why large Wordpress sites are expensive to develop. Development costs are almost entirely billed by time. The longer it takes your web developer to get from blank to finished, the more it will cost you. (FYI, my development time and costs are substantially lower than industry averages)

By Brad Poirier 07 Mar, 2017
Did you know that the average consumer checks your website at least two times from two different devices before they journey into your location? Over 60% of searches start  from a smartphone device , but there is still a great amount of desktop and tablet traffic coming in. Why is that? Some of that desktop traffic is the original, organic traffic yes. However, a lot of it is a returning customer. Perhaps you're a kitchen remodeler , someone searches for "kitchen remodeling" and they find your website from their smartphone. They're not ready to buy yet though. So they bookmark or they email their significant other the web address. When they get home, they venture to their desktop or start using their tablet to continue the research.

Most (amateur) web designers only pay attention to the desktop view. Sad face: many web designers still build websites that are desktop only, they're not building responsive websites that are mobile-optimized. The worst part is they're often designing this on a 20" or larger monitor. Of course it's easy to design a great site when you have 20" of a digital canvas to work with. The real Picasso comes out when you can take that same great experience and display that on a 4" screen, AND to optimize it for as slow as a 3G connection. There's a big difference between your site being mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized. Mobile-friendly usually just means making sure the content is formatted to scroll up and down and no content stretches beyond the width of the smartphone screen. Mobile-optimized is taking the same content from your desktop and optimizing it for a mobile experience. This is important now more than ever, as Google has started to ONLY SEO Index your mobile site and not your desktop site.

So that's the why I design websites using four screens. You might interested in knowing what are the screens I design with, and how I use each one of them to turn your website from blah to Yahhh! I only build websites that are responsive. I check how the content looks and how the content interacts along the way. Below are the screens that I use to check this with and more importantly, the order in which I do this.

Screen #1 - Smartphone
You might be shocked to think that the first screen I check my work on is a mobile device. If you were a bakery and 60% of your revenue came from donuts, would you start your morning by prepping the cookies and pastries? You start with your money maker! Well, since over 60% of all Google searches start from a mobile device, why would you start with the device that people aren't using as much? I'll tell you why, it's because you're working with an amateur designer. Or perhaps you're working with a legacy designer who won't budge. When I design in a mobile-first environment, I can truly focus on that experience and maximizing it's potential. We focus on getting the most important information right away. For most businesses this means placing a "TAP-TO-CALL" style button at the top of the page. Nothing is more frustrating than having to remember the number in your head and quickly double-tap-your-home-button to get to the phone dialer and attempt to get every number in there correctly. If location visits are important we also make sure there are easy-to-find buttons for loading your bulit-in GPS navigation.

What do you think the next screen is going to be?

Screen #2 - Tablet
Did you guess that correctly? It's only natural to work my way up the screen size. Now that I've mastered the experience for mobile, I can open up canvas a little here and work on the tablet view. Tablets today range from about 7"-10" and yes there are those two outliers that are around 13" , but they're still a tablet, at least according to the internet browser being used. A growing trend for the tablet view is using what we call the "hamburger" menu. That's the 3-line menu button you might see in the upper right or left hand corner of the screen. We layout the navigation in both the hamburger format and the traditional horizontal navigation. It all depends on the business and the goal of your website. That's why we custom design all of our sites starting with a 1-on-1 consultation . Since a tablet is still inherently a mobile device where the user interacts using only a touchscreen, we still are focusing on easy, tappable buttons. Consumers are used to tapping on items with their tablets, we make it super easy for that to happen. Gone are the days of only making links available from within the text. Consumers need clear call-to-action buttons to guide them along their buying journey.

Screens #3 & #4 - Laptop & Large Monitor
Technically I'm designing and coding everything on my large monitor, but the testing is being done on multiple screens. However, when I start to design for the desktop, I'm using my laptop which dual outputs to a 21" cinema display. This allows me to have the freedom of design but to see how it will interact on a 13" monitor (which is about the average monitor size for a small laptop). The most important content is "above the fold". So if it's not designed right, some of the content that looks good on 21" would normally get cut off on a smaller screen. We make sure that doesn't happen. The desktop design is where it does get a lot more fun, and more roomy. It's like trying to pack a bunch of moving boxes into a cargo van when you've been using your 1988 Corolla earlier that day. Ahh, you can breathe a little. However, use this space carefully. Remember, with great space comes great responsibility. I've seen many web designers who came from a graphic design background. It is honestly a natural progression, but it's an entirely different approach. Use a white space or negative space is critical here. So if you're used to working with that graphic designer who loves using tons of colors and turning text into metal like beveled art and everything else that came with cheap Photoshop work from 10 years ago, they're in the wrong arena. You have about 5 seconds to capture someone's attention before they'll decide to leave the website. Now, a lot of that comes from excellent copywriting and headline writing , but bad design choices will confuse the consumer and cause them to leave and go to the next result in line.

So there you have it. The method to my madness. Some people look at website design and say why not , I look at website design and say why ? Rule of thumb: Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. I'm on the web all day long. I can easily spot a badly performing website, in terms of conversion. Today, you're website is all about conversion . Your business can't afford to run a wiki-pedia website. It needs to be a lean, mean, lead-generating machine. This applies to all business websites.

What are some examples of good and bad website design that you have seen?
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