Six Signs Your Brand Needs A Makeover

It might be time for a brand makeover—a re-think of your strategy and positioning, visuals and copy. Here are a few signs it’s time to take a fresh look.

You want to appeal to a niche market. Your branding (business card, website, flyers, social media, advertisements) may need some tinkering to identify and connect with the right niche. Pretend you’ve realized you love working with physicians—and you’d like to start advertising to reach more of them. Your brand—the images and the voice of your copy—needs to shift to focus more pointedly on the needs of your M.D. niche. If you’ve filled your marketing pieces with images of construction-oriented workers, your branding will not appeal to this new niche.
You’ve created a thrilling new _______(service, program, book, product) and are in search of the right audience. This can be a time when you need a pivot: not quite a 180, but more than a tinker. Your new fill-in-the-blank might be designed not for your current clients, but more for the people who can’t afford you yet. Your marketing pieces may need to be given a more polished, sophisticated look.  Or it might be a deeper dive into a narrow portion of your expertise. You’ll need to make sure your branding, your positioning and all of your collateral works for both audiences well.
You’re busy talking about you. The days when marketing was all about advertising your talents are O-V-E-R. You want to “speak” to your client—on your website and in your social media and marketing pieces—as though you were having a conversation. How are their lives different after you’ve worked your magic? What concrete results can they expect? What will the experience feel like? Show them what’s possible instead of giving them a laundry list of your services and awards.
Your competition looks—and reads—better than you. Or, their new branding pieces look too similar to yours. When’s the last time you web-surfed your competition? Take a look: how do your message and visual touch-points compare to what’s out there? And be honest with yourself—how you pitch yourself to clients must match up with how you look and read. If you’re pitching the high end of the food chain then you darned well better look like you’re worth every penny. You deserve to occupy a unique space that speaks to your DNA and your sweet-spot clients.  Be sure that your competitors have not revamped their materials to look too similar to yours.  This happened to InSilico Media Group, so we’ve worked hard on a new website that will stand out from our competitors yet again.
You’re hard to find. This will be your online death. It happens when your name or point of view is forgettable (or difficult, like InSilico!)—just another “me too” message that gets lost (think: “innovative solutions through technology”). Or maybe your name is too similar to someone who’s already staked their claim on your industry’s Google rankings (A-1 Services, for example)—in that case, only new brand positioning is going to get you a break-through. Invest in building and maintaining your presence so you own your niche.
Your brand is stuck in time. Your website, your images (and especially photos), look like they’re from 1997. (Unless you’re doing a #TBT (Throwback Thursday for our less tech savvy friends) Your clients will sense it even if they don’t (or can’t) articulate it. Overly formal copy, stiff head shots and multiple old-style fonts are the first signs that you’re out of touch. Images that scream bad stock photography or are interchangeable with your competitors do you no favors (if I see one more financial advisory site with happy senior citizens strolling the beach, I might gag). Review your site and marketing collateral at least annually and make modern updates at least every couple of years—more often if you’re making the kinds of changes in #1 and #2 above.

 
A brand makeover requires some grit and a dose of courage. Don’t commit until you’re ready to set your stake in the ground—to claim a piece of territory as your own and commit to building (and defending) it.

 

Does Your Brand Need A Makeover?

One thing we have learned in the Mid-Ohio Valley is that brands are reluctant to modify, or at least freshen up their stale, dated brand.  A prime example of this can be seen while driving down Route 14 from Williamstown to Vienna. There are many signs along the road that have faded, causing a potential customer to not notice them.  There are many brands that have poor color choices, as well as poor font choices as well. Some brands even have poor name choices, or go by an acronym that makes zero sense, or unfortunately spells a slang term.

Like dating, branding begins with a first impression. Think of your ideal prospect – that one person or company that you would love to land as a client. If you had the opportunity to hand that person a business card or send them a link to your website, what would their very first impression of your company be? Would they see it as smart, forward-thinking, and capable? Or would it give them the feeling your company is amateurish, tired, or antiquated?

Many business owners believe their logo is their branding. Not true. While your logo is certainly a part of it, your brand is actually comprised of much more. Take a look at your business card. Yes, you have a logo – but what else do you see? What colors are being used for the logo and the type on the card? What font is used and what does it communicate (modern, old-fashioned, etc.)? Do you see a tagline or positioning line (such as Coca-Cola’s “It’s the Real Thing®”)? Is your card printed on just one side, or is it two-sided? Does it fold? Is it unique? Every single one of these elements is related to your branding, and each one plays an important role in shaping a first impression.

Go through the same exercise with your website. Look at each individual component and ask yourself, what does this color, design, phrasing, font, etc. communicate to my ideal prospect?

Realistically, completely revamping a brand can be a time-consuming and expensive process, but it’s one that will often pay off in dividends by boosting business significantly. If your business is not in a position to undertake a full re-branding – or simply doesn’t need one – consider a brand re-fresh. This approach is typically less costly and less involved, and can bring noticeable results.  Just because the CEO’s nephew designed it while working as a summer intern 10 years ago, when the company started, doesn’t mean it does a good job of representing the business today.

Want to chat about a re-branding or brand re-fresh? Contact us at info@insilicomediagroup.com.

 

Seven Tactics to Establish Trust

When it comes to establishing trust, it doesn’t matter how compelling your calls-to-action are, how engaging your content is, or how quickly your pages load on mobile screens. If visitors to your site have any doubts about how trustworthy you are, they’ll bounce right out and never come back.
Especially in the B2B sector, where the customer journey is increasingly self-service and often involves several months of careful deliberation, trust is a deal-breaking prerequisite for any sort of relationship building process.

In fact, while nearly half of us trust doctors and firefighters, only 3% trust salespeople and marketers, according to a HubSpot study. So basically, our profession barely outranks stockbrokers, car salespeople, and politicians when it comes to trust. Even lawyers and baristas command more trust than we do.

What is it about these brands that makes one competitor more trustworthy than another? The data doesn’t offer any definitive answers, but there are plenty of measures you can take right now to maximize the impression of trustworthiness that your website exudes.

Here are seven tactics to try, as suggested by HubSpot:

1) Use authentic images.

Horribly generic and formulaic stock photos are everywhere. While there’s nothing wrong with using carefully curated stock imagery in the right places, it’s much better to favor website visuals that look like they were actually taken of you and your team in real situations. Stock photos can get expensive, too. To truly maximize your site’s visual authenticity, you may want to consider hiring a professional photographer to take photos of your staff, products, and office. This way, you still get quality that will display well on your website and work well for other content assets, but authenticity will shine through to your audience.

At InSilico, we HATE those “staged” stock images. We find the most organic, natural images we can that best represent your brand.

2) Provide social proof via testimonials.

Social proof plays a big role in creating trust. Reach out to your clients every time you complete a project and ask them to provide feedback for display on your website. Whenever possible, include a photo of the person, which helps to drive home the authenticity to the testimonial. Here’s an example of a visually compelling testimonial from the homepage of Sisense, a leading business intelligence software provider.

We understand how awkward it feels to ask your customers for testimonials. In fact, we’re guilty of letting this slide as well. However, we’re getting better at it, and we know if we can do it, you can too!

3) Create helpful content resources.

No one likes a constant sales pitch, and most visitors won’t be anywhere near ready to buy the first time they visit your website, anyway. Instead of content that screams, “Buy these products now, because they’re the most awesome things ever!”, aim to publish resources that show the benefit of your product or service, without overtly selling. Creating helpful content, designed to help solve audience problems and address their pain points, is critical when building trust.

We have a separate resource library for our clients. Once they sign up with us, we provide a multitude of information sources to help them understand our efforts and how we’re working to help them grow.

4) Provide social proof via media logos.

Earned media commands more trust than messages on paid or owned properties. Sure, we all know that in the age of “native advertising,” the lines between journalism and sponsored promotions have blurred, but there’s still a certain mystique in being able to say that The Washington Post, for example, has found your company noteworthy enough to mention it in an article.

Those “as seen on” montages of publisher logos that you see on many B2B websites are great for boosting confidence at a glance. Are you getting any decent press? Make sure your website visitors know about it.

If you’ve been published in the newspaper, or in a magazine – BRAG ABOUT IT!

5) Provide social proof via client and partner logos.

We’ve already touched on how important social proof is, but the opportunities here extend well beyond testimonials and media logos. You can also use client and partner logos to show who your allies are. People will recognize larger brands, but even unknowns can make an impression.

Sometimes this isn’t feasible in highly competitive, dog-eat-dog environments. We get it.

6) Include microcopy that sets expectations intuitively.

Behind all mistrust is fear of the unknown. Make it abundantly clear to your site visitors what’s going to happen when they click on your site’s various tabs, CTA buttons, and links. And make sure your navigation labels are extremely intuitive. Quick disclaimers and labels below buttons are useful, too. If a prospect chooses to opt in to your email list, how often should they expect to hear from you? Will you sell them out to a telemarketing agency, or will you keep their contact information under wraps?

Nothing’s worse than unsolicited emails, or too many emails. Once, our CEO, Nicole Sheridan, signed up for email marketing from OldNavy.com. After receiving 2-3 emails a day, she could not “unsubscribe” because the feature was “temporarily broken”. She ended up reporting them as Spam. Old Navy! … imagine that.

7) Put the audience in the center of stories you tell.

When you write content, or have someone write your content for you, make sure to use the word “you.” It works as a placeholder for the reader’s name, which helps to disarm people and help them be more receptive to your message. Research suggests that some people were more likely to marry someone with the same initials as them — that’s how powerful your name is. On the other hand, using a person’s name too much comes off as creepy, so you have to be careful with it. “You” places the reader in your content as if you are speaking directly to them and involving them, without the risks of using their name too much.

You have to give your customer a reason to read what you’re writing. Period.

How do you inspire trust on your website? Let InSilico Media Group help you today!

10 Questions to Ask Your Next Web Developer

Selecting the right web design company for your business can be challenging. We know how it works – you put out an SOS on Facebook, and everyone tags their friends. Some are legit agency owners, and some are freelancers. Some have proven skills, some have questionable skills, and some … well, they’re well connected.

InSilico Media Group suggests you interview your web design company choices as you would an employee. We imagine smart business owners understand it’s not always the best idea to go with the most “liked” mutual friend, and it doesn’t always benefit you to hire the most accomplished company. You also don’t want to hire someone’s third cousin twice removed living in their mom’s basement. Afterall, you’re paying them to do a service for your business, and trusting that they will help your business grow. Only – you’re not paying their insurance…

So, in no particular order, here’s a good list of questions, and sub-questions, to ask a potential web design contractor:

1. What is the full extent of your capabilities?

Like we discussed in a previous blog, if your website “developer” is using a drag-and-drop platform like Squarespace, do your due diligence and ask a few follow-up questions… are you going to be stuck in an impossible contract on Squarespace like you would if you built your own drag-and-drop website on the platform? Will you be able to increase your pages, content, photos, or inventory without increasing your month-to-month costs? What if something happens with an add-on – will the company know how to fix it using custom code? Is there even a way to fix it with custom code? Is this platform built to help SEO? Can they PROVE that to be true?

2. Do you have any experience in my industry and with similar websites?

Depending on your design ideas, this may not be important. However, if you’re hiring a firm that focuses more on technical websites and you need a graphic-heavy website, this could become a problem quickly. What’s worse, if you opt to go with a firm that uses a standard template (such as going through YellowPages, or using a Squarespace or Weebly option with limited template resources), you could end up having a website that is exactly the same as all of your competitors in the local area. Looking for a partner with a multitude of experience across a variety of industries shows a variety of experience that can benefit you. Also, if you want exclusivity in your industry, this may prove beneficial to you as well.

3. How can you help me drive website traffic and generate leads? – or – How will you optimize my website for search engines?

If your “web designer” is a graphic designer-turned-web-designer-thanks-to-drag-and-drop-programs … stop right there. Graphic design and web design are two very different fields of study and we have yet to find a graphic designer that fully understands creating images optimized for websites. (which makes pages load slower, and the slower a page loads, the angrier it makes Google, and if you make Google angry, you’re not getting ranked. Period.) Standalone web developers are great to work on projects, but we suggest looking for a web developer that’s part of an advertising agency, or at least can show they have a game plan or check list readily available to build your website to current SEO standards. (At InSilico, we have a checklist. Just saying…)

Also – Google what the latest SEO phase is, and ask your web developer if they know. If they say Penguin or Panda… run.

4. Do you practice responsive web design to ensure a consistent and usable experience on all devices?

Responsive web design is the Google-recommended (and industry-recommended) best practice for building a website that is not just mobile friendly, but “friendly” and optimized to create a consistent and ideal user experience for all devices. Understanding how each firm approaches responsive design throughout the entire process will be insightful and perhaps eye-opening.

5. Will my website be fully customized, or a “customized” theme?

There are a lot of websites out there masquerading as custom websites but they’re merely pre-built themes that have been customized for a particular client. Budget limitations may require using such themes; however, if you are paying for and expecting to receive a custom “stick-built” website, it’s critical that you ask this question. A custom website means that every pixel of design and layout has been performed by the firm and the website has been “hand coded” by a qualified developer.

6. What content management system(s) do you recommend and why? Can you show us a demonstration?

Most web development companies have their personal preferences for particular content management systems (CMS). But it’s beneficial to understand why a web design firm recommends a particular CMS platform and what the pros and cons are of that platform. Be sure that the strengths of the platform you choose align with the needs and functionality requirements of your website.

Many clients assume that a CMS website will function the same on the back end, regardless of who you partner with to develop the website. However, the back-end design of the CMS interface and the administrative functionality often varies greatly. So it’s helpful to request a website demonstration to better understand how customized and intuitive the CMS of their websites are. After all, your company will be using this feature the most, so it’s imperative that it is easy to use for your team.

7. What is your testing and quality control checkpoints before launching a website?

Testing is a critical process that should be completed prior to launching your new website. It’s absolutely essential for your website to render smoothly on various browsers and devices, so your web design partner should conduct cross-browser testing on the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer, as well as cross-platform testing on the latest versions of iOS and Android for tablets and smartphones. It’s also important that your partner follows a checklist of internal quality assurance measures to ensure that all bases are covered before launch.

8. How long will the project (realistically) take? – or – What is your web design and development process?

The length of a website project varies greatly depending on scope, complexity, schedule and both the client and web design partner’s ability to hit deadlines. Based on an understanding of your project needs, a potential web partner should be able to give you an estimate of how long a project like yours typically takes and provide a basic schedule for key project milestones. They should also help you understand what factors can affect the schedule and where issues typically arise.

By asking what their process is, you see there’s a plan in place and it’s more than just dragging-and-dropping. You want a web developer that does their due diligence, creates something unique to your brand, and is excited to share their process and timeline with you. Because, when you appreciate their timeline, you allow them to continue their cycle of projects, ensuring they know they’re going to be able to take on another client in a timely manner. After all, it’s all about continually making money, right?

9. What is included in your price?

Every company prices websites differently, so understanding what the pricing includes AND doesn’t include is vital. At the end of the day, you want to understand what you’re getting for your money, what additional costs may come up along the way that are accounted for in the proposal and how they’ll handle estimating and billing for things that fall outside of the scope. When it comes to billing, no one likes surprises, so be sure to gain a clear understand of the pricing before signing a contract.

If you are going to use a web designer that is going to put you on Squarespace or Weebly (or Wix, or Web, or WebsiteBuilder) … make sure to receive a copy of that contract as well before they sign you up, and before you sign on with them.

10. Can you provide client references?

Any Joe Schmuck can suggest a website designer when you put out your social media SOS. Take a minute to look at who is referring their friends. Do they have a website? How does it look? Do they currently work with this person? Do they even own a business?

It’s always a good idea to talk with a potential partner’s previous website redesign clients to get a better understanding of the company. What was it like to work with them? How did the final product turn out? How successful has the website been? What (if any) pitfalls should you be aware of? Speaking directly with previous clients is a great way to round out your due diligence and gain a more complete picture of your potential redesign partner.

 

Not sure about who your options are?  InSilico Media Group believes in transparency.  We’re happy to let you know who our competitors are, and get you connected with other options.  We believe that a well-informed client is the best client.  We don’t believe in sales presentations, and only follow-up a few times before moving on.  If we have to convince you that you want to do business with us, we’ll spend our entire relationship convincing you, instead of building trust with you.

Need Employees? Our Agency Is A Fraction Of The Cost!

Marketing and your website is an INVESTMENT. Just as your physical location and office staff are an investment.

Essentially, InSilico Media Group takes your physical, tangible assets such as employees, location, products, services, etc. and creates them on a digital platform.

How does a website help your business?
Think of all the bills attached to your physical office – rents/leases, design, furniture, utilities, insurance, etc.  A website comes with one cost: the cost to design.  This website becomes your digital office/storefront.  It never closes, enabling customers and potential customers to find the information or products they are looking for.  A website can be designed to be your virtual assistant.  It can help you grow your business through easy-to-use information request forms, so you gather as  much information as you need to respond to a prospect with a customized quote quickly.  It can help you schedule meetings, collect payments, or share documents.

How does marketing help your business?
You can’t operate a business if you never tell someone it exists.  Using marketing, you’re placing your message in front of the people who are likely to use your services or buy your products.  Unfortunately, most businesses have several competitors in the local area.  Marketing research helps you find those who are still making a decision about what to buy, or who to buy it from and place your advertisement in front of them at the right time in their buying decision process to make yourself an option.

How does hiring a marketing agency help your business?
Let’s face it – a website that’s never maintained is essentially the same as a physical building that’s never maintained.  While your physical building may start to crumble or fall apart or even just gather dirt, your website will stop being functional as technology changes (a prime example: a few months ago, Google changed the way their maps worked on websites, so websites that did not update the API no longer have functioning maps).
And marketing is simply not effective if you’re not going to make a long-term, multi-faceted commitment.
Instead of paying several employees, as well as the costs of insurance, taxes, etc. to have a staff focused on marketing, sourcing an agency like InSilico helps reduce your costs and offers you up-to-date marketing, graphic, and web services in an all-in-one fee for less than one full-time employee. (Let’s face it, finding one FTE with formal training and experience in all three fields for less than $30k, especially$15k, a year will NEVER happen!)

It makes sense to partner with an advertising agency to grow your business.  If you’re ready to speak to our team, shoot us a quick email.  We’ll schedule a brief meeting with you and go over your goals, give you ideas on areas we can help your brand grow, and provide you a practical, reasonable proposal.

We’re ready to work for you!

Logo vs. Brand Identity – Explaining the difference

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase: “Your logo is not your brand.” This is repeated often enough that I have to guess there are people out there, who think a logo is a brand.

On the other end of the spectrum there are people arguing that a brand is so much more than a logo, that a logo is inconsequential. So I wanted to show how I define, understand and use the terms logo and brand, as well as some other related key words.

Logo, brand and brand identity terms

WHAT IS A LOGO?

A logo is the graphic symbol that represents a person, company or organization. If the logo is well-known enough, such as the Nike swoosh, you may even see a logo used without the name of the business that it is associated with. Normally, most marks have a typographic part that more clearly spells out the name of the organization.

Logo creates the identity of your business and reflects your company’s personality – youthful, energetic, colorful, dependable, professional, elegant etc. It’s the foundation of your brand marketing strategy and should be designed carefully to capture your consumer’s imagination.

What is a wordmark or logotype?

A logo can also be purely typographic. It is called a logotype or wordmark when only the letters of the name make up to the logo (there is no additional symbol). A great example is Coca-Cola’s red scripty type. Some people also refer to the logomark as the word portion of a logo that also has a symbol. Sometimes the graphic symbol and typographic wordmark are very separate. With other logo designs, there is not a clear separation of logo symbol from typography.

Importance of Logo

The logo symbolizes all that your business represents – your promise to your customer, your services and offerings, quality, reliability and everything that makes your company different from the rest. It’s the first step to brand positioning and development. Think of it as the unique identity through which customers will recognize your company and are left with a lasting memory of your brand.

A logo should not only be simple to understand and unique but also effectively convey the message of your brand. An example of a strong brand is the Nike logo – a simple tick mark that’s easy to understand, memorable and conveys the company’s message “Just Do It”! Wonder what its creator, Caroline Davidson, had in mind when she came up with this brilliant logo of an idea?

Features of a Powerful Logo

  • Should be unique and easy to identify
  • The colours and image must be associated with your company brand
  • Fonts should be legible
  • Must synchronize with company name and convey the right message
  • Should be easily memorable and make a good impression
  • Must be compatible to use across platforms

Branding IQ

WHAT IS A BRAND?

What is included under the term brand is much harder to define. It certainly encompasses the logo and the full visual position created by a strong brand identity. But it also includes many other areas that are not strictly the design side of a business. These may include your content, messaging and story telling. Customer service and the client experience also a part of a brand. The idea of reputation is a critical part of defining the word brand. Some people summarize this into the very abstract idea of a promise.

You will also hear some people (including me) use the word brand almost interchangeably with company or organization. It can be a way to talk about product or service; individual or organization; company or non-profit without getting caught up in listing all those particulars. For example, people will say: “A great way to promote your brand is using social media.”

I like to think of a brand as a combination of how you define and promote yourself and how others define and view you. You never have complete control over your brand because it is not wholly generated internally.

WHAT IS A BRAND IDENTITY?

Once a logo has been designed it gets applied to many different applications. These can be as simple as the logo placed in the top center of a piece of paper and calling it letterhead. If all you do is essentially rubber-stamp your logo onto different things, you really have not developed a full brand identity.

A brand identity is the larger, distinct visual look that is associated with a company. When a brand identity really works, you should be able to recognize the brand even if you don’t see the logo. For example, Netflix’s red envelope is a simple yet powerful example of a brand identity.

Many people have heard about the importance of using their logo consistently. But there should be a consistency to elements beyond your logo. A prime example of this would be InSilico‘s teal accent hexagons. Without the words “InSilico Media Group” attached, our hexagons still represent our brand’s identity.

The tricky thing is that while your logo is unfailingly unchangeable, your brand identity must have both consistency and flexibility. Creating a brand identity that is distinct yet varies based on it’s form, is a challenge but can bring big dividends in your brand’s value. The elements that can be part of a full brand identity could be fonts, colors, imagery, and even the voice of the writing.

 

We can help!

If you’re ready to launch a full brand identity for your business, email our sales team at info@insilicomediagroup.com or call our office at 740-371-5099.

19 reasons to NOT do-it-yourself

For those of us who were excited by Geocities back in the 1990s, and Myspace in the early days of social media, do-it-yourself website builders are equally as terrible to use though easy to set up.

Clarification: do-it-yourself websites include Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, GoDaddy templates, Website Builder, Web.com, eHost, Strikingly, etc.

I know why people use these do-it-yourself websites, convinced from the commercials claiming it is “easy to use” and the words “cheap” and “fast” while removing the need to hire an outside company.

Though folks are a bit intimidated about setting up their websites, this is one shortcut that is not worth it. This blog will focus on the reasons not to use the “easy” alternatives.

1. Outdated technology. A lot of these template-based sites are built on technology that quickly becomes outdated. Case-in-point, up until March 2012, Wix used Flash technology. Flash is so frowned upon that many phones don’t even display it, and some tablets don’t as well. Thus, if you pick a theme that’s been around for a while, the expired shelf life of the theme may cause you to exclude a portion of people who want to see your website.

2. Google does not always like the do-it-yourself sites. Mainly, you can not verify some of these sites in the Google Webmaster tools, which is considerably important in the beginning steps to SEO. This is increasingly significant if your site gets hacked.

Though the platform on which your website is built does not necessarily improve or hinder your search rankings, content visibility is the most important factor.

While some of these do-it-yourself builders offer application installs to boost your SEO – if you’re not sure what you are doing, most of these are not user friendly.

3. Website builders, such as Wix, load slower than HTML-built templates (such as custom-coded sites, or sites built on WordPress by professionals), and this will not only lose people who do want to read about you – but will lower your search engine rankings. Slowly loading websites will penalize you because search engines will know your site provides poor user experience. (Which cycles back to #2).

4. Do-it-yourself websites don’t look as good. I’ve never seen a Wix or Weebly site that looked highly professional and really nice. Because these companies don’t place a high importance on “modern design”, many of these templates do not keep up with today’s design trends. In a world where innovation matters and staying on top of what’s happening matters, this is a huge mistake.

5. Some of these site builders, such as Wix and Squarespace have over 500 templates. In addition to being overwhelming, the lack of assistance and documented research in user experience and modern design trends in your industry can lead you to make a bad design decision for your website. Sometimes businesses need a little assistance in choosing which template works best for their company. Too often we’ve seen clients come to us after purchasing a template (some only $40, some upwards of $300) and realizing they’re limited to selling only 20 products, or only having 7 pages when they really needed 12.

6. They make money off your lack of technological expertise. Wix even publicly claims they are “addressing audiences that are less tech-savvy.” It’s never a good thing to partner with a company that automatically assumes you’re not technology-oriented.

7. “Basic” theme options (aka the advertised “affordable” website you see on television) proudly proclaim “THIS SITE WAS CREATED WITH WIX.COM!” – which will not scream professional and credible to your users.

Basic theme options don’t give you full website capabilities, including the ability to customize your site specific to your business. You also don’t always get the space you need, nor will you have a site without ads.

You don’t want your site to include a “THIS SITE WAS CREATED WITH SUCH-N-SUCH.com CREATE YOUR OWN FOR FREE!” banner at the bottom where your important contact information and copyright information should be. Occasionally, we put our name at the bottom of our sites because that’s what artists do. But we don’t put a big “HIRE US TO DO YOUR SITE TOO!” down there.

8. Some themes only allow you to have minimal pages. This is a problem because you decrease the amount of content Google can crawl. Decreased content means fewer keywords. Fewer keywords mean fewer searchers and traffic.

This also means you can’t create multiple kinds of keywords, page titles, or meta data to be indexed. (Cycles back to point #2)

9. Inaccurate analytics. Some of the older scripting technologies embedded in many of these don’t allow many site builder users to get an accurate picture of a site’s traffic and performance.

10. Bad first impressions. Don’t ever allow your business to succumb to the “I’m just a small business, I don’t need a professional, fancy site” mentality. Have you ever heard the expression “first impressions are everything?” … your customers are out there every day comparing your business to your competition. Stand on the sidewalk of a busy downtown, or in the mall and watch people walk by. A large majority of people will actually research a business before even walking into the business.

11. Not mobile friendly. Slow-loading self-built sites, that are data and graphics laden, turn off all mobile users and churn through limited data plans faster. Only desktop users can see your site and they won’t wait longer than 5-7 seconds for a site to load. Would you?

12. Websites built in less than 30 minutes. If it takes longer to bake a cake, what is that saying about the quality of your website? Don’t you assume your business or organization deserves more time and energy for it’s most important public-facing thing than a cake? We take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the size and scope of a project.

That means you get a site that is well-designed, thoughtfully planned, with defined roles, copyrights, and financial points.

13. Your domain name may not be exclusively branded. Many of these free sites, especially weebly, will have your URL look like: www.insilico.weebly.com. How’s that look compared to insilicomediagroup.com? You want your URL to advertise your brand. You don’t want your URL to advertise you picked the cheapest option in building a website.

14. No differentiation with your competitors. At the time of this writing, The main competitor has about a few hundred templates. GoDaddy has far fewer. Some boast 42,785,291 users. GoDaddy has many millions, too. Guess how many other people have a website that looks exactly like everyone else’s.

What’s worse is, any half-way tech savvy individual knows to “right click” and “view source” on your page to read the HTML code. There they will see the exact name of the theme you used, where they can search the theme, purchase it themselves, and copy your brand’s website completely.

15. Got questions? Pay for answers. If you have questions, no one can hear you scream. They have support staff, but in many cases you have to pay. Would you pay your bank or insurance company everytime you called to ask a question?

16. Forever costs. The highest-priced plans are about $30 a month, or $360 a year. Forever. If you hired someone (we’d love it to be us), you could pay for a new site that would pay for itself in about 2 years with no monthly payments in perpetuity aside from the domain and hosting renewal costs.

17. Ownership. Everything we build for our clients is owned by the client: url, content, photos, videos, everything. Many of these sites, such as squarespace.com and wix.com, won’t allow you to have ownership of your website. (cycles back to #16)

18. Nothing’s ever really free, is it? 1&1’s “My Website” starts out on a free trial, and then charges you. I know a company that was paying $1250 a year for their Register.com online store until Register.com lost a license to do business with eBay and shut them down because of Register.com’s own screwup. Though our basic sites are, on average, $3,000, having a website that won’t slide in any back-end monthly user fees, as well as a website that won’t potentially be lost due to legal problems, has to be a good option for peace-of-mind.

19. Domain holdups. We had a client that had been paying for a site builder’s professional design services for some time and was shocked to learn of the many parts of her site that wasn’t driving traffic. Now that she wanted to get away, the domain registration was tied up with the site builder. Her domain name was stuck in some DIY nightmare.

Sometimes, clients of these DIY sites can pay a large fee (we’ve seen upwards of $1,500 to break their domain name free from the site builder). Other times, the client is stuck in a DIY nightmare, waiting for their contract to lapse so they can get their domain without a hefty fee. That requires a thorough understanding of your contract, and giving notice to the site builder in a timely manner, to ensure you’re able to break your domain out of DIY Jail in time.

Convinced yet?

We’ll walk you through our process, provide an accurate quote, and help you decide what’s best for you. Sometimes we’re not the best option. Sometimes we are. What we can always promise is that we’ll be honest and have your best interests in mind.

Click here to learn more about our website development services!