July 31, 2019

Web Design vs Web Content

Your website is an important part of the marketing maze. If you’re going to pay for clicks, you need to have somewhere to send people.

Early on in my self-employment career I decided I wanted to be a web designer. Which was a terrible decision, given that I hate web design, and hate web designers. But I had studied Ben Hunt’s Pro Web Design Course, which at the time was probably the best web design course on the internet. And so I knew more about it than was probably good for me.

(Incidentally, Ben’s course is no longer available, but we interviewed him on the Maze Marketing Podcast here)

So, I had a ‘web design business’. With no portfolio, and no clients, except a couple of freebie websites I had done. I created a Google AdWords campaign bidding on local ‘web designer’ keywords. And thought little more of it, until one day my phone rang.

“Hello, I’m AD” said the caller. “Do you do websites?”

Yes, yes I did do websites.

“Could you add a membership site?”

Yes, I probably could.

“Would you come over for a meeting to discuss it?”

Yes, yes I would!

I was relieved to get off the phone without AD asking whether he could see any of the websites I had created. Which in a roundabout way, was zero. We arranged to meet the following evening at his house.

AD shared his house with his wife, parents, and about thirteen small children. We perched on office chairs in his attic, surrounded by piles of strewn paper.

AD did most of the talking. He talked excitedly through his ideas for each page. I did most of the listening – trying to suppress the occasional yawn. We mapped out roughly what his new website was going to look like. Eventually, the subject of payment came up.

“How much is this going to cost?” AD asked.

I was careful not to let it show, but I badly needed the cash.

“Four hundred pounds. Two hundred up front, two hundred on completion.”

“That sounds fair enough.” AD said, without blinking.

‘Damn, I should have asked for more!’ I thought darkly.

Still, a part of me was relieved. It was good to have someone who wanted to engage my services and pay me money. He paid me the £200 outside his house in cash, on his doorstep.

I sent AD an invoice later as a receipt for the £200. I had no invoice template, and at the time had no accounting system. My first ever invoice was set out crudely in Microsoft Word, with ‘RJD Consulting’ at the top as my business name. I copied the layout from an invoice I had received from a supplier, and set the invoice number at random. I didn’t want AD to know it was my first ever invoice!

There were a number of problems with AD’s website. Firstly, AD had no idea what he was actually trying to achieve. The scope of the project was changed abruptly a number of times.

Secondly, the website took me WAY longer to build than I anticipated. The more intricate membership elements of the site didn’t fully work, but AD eventually signed the site off.

That was in 2012. I can’t show you it, because it’s no longer online. It seemed nobody except AD wanted the website after all.

Your website first and foremost solves a communication problem. A poorly designed website that says the right thing to the right person will still convert. A well designed site with the wrong content won’t. And likely won’t exist, seven years down the line.

In most cases, there is no need to pay a designer to custom-build your website, like AD did. And actually, I didn’t custom-design his website, because it was built from an existing WordPress theme.

Some of the professional themes you can buy for WordPress are excellent. I use Thrive Themes, and can create a new website in a day or two. The theme takes care of the design, leaving me to focus on the content.

Content changes always outperform design changes. Remember that next time you feel ‘bored’ of your website.


P.S. For further reading on web design, read ‘Save The Pixel’ and ‘Web Design is Dead’, by Ben Hunt. Both free at http://benhunt.com/books/.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.