Looks Aren’t Everything When It Comes To Hot Web Design

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By now, you’ve probably seen the TV spot for Squarespace, which promises “Better websites for all.” Or maybe you’ve heard of Wix, which claims to “make it simple for everyone to create a beautiful, professional Web presence.” No doubt you know WordPress, which, for years, has been the go-to blogging platform-turned-world-leading content management system (CMS). These Web-building tools and others like them have really come into their own over the past couple of years, giving all people the ability to create powerful, advanced and aesthetically awesome websites without a lot of design or development experience. A few years ago, I might’ve turned my nose up at these template-based, semi-customizable websites, but not any longer.

From a design/development perspective, most templates are actually really good these days, and some are outright stunning. Not long ago, templates were created by less talented designers and built by developers with limited skills. But today’s Web-building tools help average Joes launch clean and sophisticated websites with large-format imagery. They’re coded in HTML5 for some of the most advanced functionality available, and many are responsive so they display and function beautifully on devices of all sizes. What’s not to like?

{Enter the wet blanket}

Unfortunately, for all their design and development strengths, these tools don’t come equipped with the strategic thinking that makes a website beautiful from a business perspective. Off-the-shelf websites may work flawlessly for the user, but they weren’t developed to work specifically for your marketing objectives. That’s no problem if you want to build a site for your side-business as a wedding DJ, your kid’s PTA group or your startup without investors or a marketing budget.

BUT if you’re entrusted with marketing a sophisticated company in a highly competitive industry, a lack of strategic thinking in your number-one marketing vehicle is a handicap you can’t afford.

It may not be obvious when you visit an effective, well-thought-out website, but Web development firms and ad agencies like ours spend as much time (if not more) on the strategy of that site as they do on the design and development. At our agency, we start at square one with your overall business and marketing objectives. Then, we develop strategic messaging that will appeal to your audience and help you reach the desired outcome, e.g. selling a product or service. From there we determine conversion points, or actions that can take users closer to our ultimate desired outcome. Only once all that is done do we start designing and building, and even then, we’re not finished with strategy.

Behind the Screen - Website DevelopmentWe structure the site around your conversion points, develop a site map that encourages users to go from one point to the next and design interfaces that maximize the likelihood that the user will convert to the sale. And the strategy still doesn’t stop there. Strategic thinking permeates virtually every choice along the way, even during what’s regarded as the creative part of the process. Choices of images, colors and copy are as strategic as they are creative. So then, your site launches and the strategy is all finished, right?

Not even. That’s when we begin analysis and optimization to make sure we’re executing against our strategy at maximum impact for the life of the site.

None of that comes with a template-based Web builder. At least not yet. Not until someone invents an HTML6 strategist with artificial intelligence.

But never say never.

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Todd's primary responsibility is to continually elevate the creative product of the agency. In the current media environment, that not only includes developing "the big idea" but also exploring unconventional, new opportunities to engage our clients' audiences experientially and digitally. Todd joined MCC in 2000 and has since worked to ensure that the creative department manifests the agency's strong strategic insights into thoughtful, unexpected communications. At MCC, Todd's client experience includes, among others, Market Street supermarkets, Texas Instruments, Samsung, Fujitsu, Raytheon, Alienware, Big Thought and Professional Bank. Specializing in brand strategies, concept development and copywriting, Todd previously worked on a range of B2B and B2C accounts, including Armstrong Floors, ASKO appliances, Motel 6 and Bally Total Fitness. His work has appeared in national television and international print campaigns, and he has won multiple ADDY, Creativity, MarCom, Davey, Stevie and Telly Awards. However, his favorite award is the Nobel. He holds a bachelor's degree in Advertising and Public Relations from the University of Arkansas. Todd enjoys adventure travel, hiking, kayaking and mountain biking.

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