5 Steps to Design a Not-Ugly Web Site

Ian Lurie

You have a company. You want to grow it online. But, for whatever reason, you still want to design your own site. You could hire an internet marketing professional, work with an agency, or hit Elance and get a design for $500. But this looks easy enough, and you’ve got that free copy of Fireworks you downloaded from Adobe, so why not go for it?

broken chair
broken chair

“Yeah, but it was cheap”

I have lots of reasons, but let’s assume I’m not going to change your mind. In that case, here’s how you design a site that might still help you grow your business:

  1. Get your logo.
  2. Create a blank page.
  3. Put your logo on the blank page.
  4. Put your phone number under the logo.
  5. Write three sentences that describe what you do.

Stop. Launch the site and hope you don’t do too much damage.

Hopefully you get my point. Web sites are best designed and built by people who know what they’re doing. If you think this is a good place to cut costs, I have a suggestion: Keep the money and buy yourself something nice. Because your homegrown, semi-functional web site won’t do you any good.

Yah, I’m giving you a lot of attitude. That’s because, at this point, you should know better. Do you prepare your company’s tax returns? Install new light fixtures? Build the furniture?

No? Why not? Clearly you’re a do-it-yourselfer.

You don’t do all these jobs because there are hidden complexities, and you know it. Screw up the tax return and you may end up losing money. Mess with the wiring and you’ll likely fry yourself. Create your own furniture from scratch and all your employees will leave.

Designing and building your web site is just as complex. You’ll need someone with an awareness of design, usability, site features, architecture, etc.. And you need someone who creates from the customer’s perspective, not yours.

If, after reading all this, you still don’t agree with me, it’s OK. I’m going to go do back surgery on myself. Once I’m done we can talk some more.

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. Here is another reason to have a professional do it. You have someone to ask questions of when you are confused or get conflicting advice.
    Just like the tax advisor.
    Just like the doctor.

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