I was recently talking to a struggling (and VERY talented) photographer, and I suggested that she consider our program.
One step of many in that program: She would work with us at 16 Hoops to redesign her website, along with constructing a system to handle clients, and planning a robust fall marketing campaign.
She said, “Oh, I don’t have time for that right now. I’ll just have my boyfriend [a web designer, apparently] fix my website this fall."
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.
Not everyone knows what a website's “true” function really is. Even some website designers don't really know the function of every website they put together.
Yikes--did I just say that out loud?
Oh yes, I did.
I’m not trying to knock designers. Stay with me here.
When you say, "I need a new website," what you are really saying is, “I have a problem that needs solving.” And sure, a new website might be part of solving that problem.
But when you just go and hire a designer (a friend, a neighbor, a referral, a Craigslister, or even a generalist firm) because you have declared that you need a new website (or a new logo), you are not even one step closer to solving the underlying problem.
And on top of it, just because you know someone who calls themselves a “website designer” does not in the least guarantee that that person will solve your problem.
Your website is more than a business card
How do we know that some brand-new websites don’t work?
It's not because they're ugly or weird. They are probably pleasant looking.
They include navigation, and header photos, and important-sounding statements like “We take you where you want to go.”
They may even have cool little videos and little “Subscribe!” buttons.
They LOOK a whole lot like functional, helpful websites.
But despite the pretty packaging, clients are no better equipped to hire you than before they landed on your site. Your business is in no better shape, even after you've spent thousands of dollars on a new website.
What a missed opportunity!
How do I know it's a missed opportunity?
Because your designer probably never asked you the right question in the first place.
The right question is: "What (expensive) problem are you trying to solve in your business?"
Your website (or whatever else in your brand ecosystem) should be built around that problem (or goal). Usually, if you're a pro photographer, your goal is to get more quality clients to contact and hire you.
It all boils down to what we keep talking about here at 16 Hoops: Expertise.
Your website needs to showcase your expertise, then tell your potential clients exactly what to do next.
I’ve seen many talented designers build websites that are just pretty online business cards. They look nice, but they don't bring you anywhere closer to improving your business or acquiring new clients.
In fact, having that cute business-card site may actually HARM your business. You'll think you've “solved” the problem because you took some action (and probably spent a lot of time and money).
But the problem is still there, bubbling under the surface, just waiting to explode...and now you're ignoring it.
Don't hire a carpenter when you need an architect
In the world of 16 Hoops, where expertise is the DNA of any strong business (ours included), hiring a web designer to redo your website without a clear goal in mind is akin to hiring a carpenter when what you really need is an architect.
Experts (architects) solve problems. Order-takers (carpenters) perform requested tasks.
So before you declare that your website is old and that "you need a new website," dig a little deeper.
Examine what makes you think you need a new site. Ask: "What problem would be solved by having a new website?"
Knowing the answer to this question will bring you closer to identifying the real issue and fixes.
And once you have that established, you can hire that web designer...and give them a crystal-clear blueprint.