If there’s one thing technology companies know about it’s technology.
And since a website is a creative, technical piece of work, then it follows that techies are the right people for the job!
Well, maybe, but before your get your tech Jedi’s mobilised, there are a few gotchas your should know about that technology people fall for when it comes to designing their own company websites. I should know, since six years ago I moved from 25 years of hard core tech-ing, into a marketing and design role.
In the end it took about two years to be good enough to avoid the common traps that technical people fall for when it comes to web design. Read on to see if you’ve fallen into some or all of the “7 Deadly Flaws”.
1. Too much focus on the platform and software.
We have to get the right server and software stack, and it has to have the perfect back-up scenario from the start, we’ll self host it because we have servers. Meticulously planned from the start, we won’t have to worry about un-planned outages.
While it’s definitely important to have a solid base, and good backup, don’t spend so much time worrying about it that you run short of time for the more important tasks. Your mission is to create a lead generation machine that can feed your sales pipeline, not a pretty piece of high tech engineering.
It’s often a better idea to host your website on high quality shared hosting if it’s only small, or get a managed VPS or dedicated server if it’s very large. You aren’t going to be making money on the hours your spend in maintenance, and it’s cheap to get someone else to do all the heavy lifting for once. That takes care of the environment.
For the software, choose a common CMS like WordPress, or if you want marketing magic Hubspot or Marketo. If you go with WordPress, choose either a premium theme, or even better, a vanilla theme and page builder.
Keep in mind that this is a marketing project, not a technical one, and you won’t get brownie points for technical wizardry, but you will if you start generating leads!
2. Our technical writing style will be perfect for our website.
Sure, technical writing is clear, it’s very precise and if followed to the letter, people will have a perfect understanding of the subject.
But the problem is, we are not dealing with motivated internal employees who have a requirement and motivation to read your content. The consumer of your written work is a potential buyer, and they are motivated around one thing only “what can you do for me?”. If your content is only about your products and services and not about what you can do for the buyer, you will lose them to a website that does answer their wants and needs.
Good website copy often takes a conversational tone, to match the “mode” that humans are normally in while web browsing. Most people are not in the right frame of mind to read technical manuals (if they ever are!), so don’t make your website read like a manual.
3. We want to come across as professional.
Every customer wants to work with a professional partner right?
Of course they do, but all your competitors websites are saying and suggesting the same thing. In any case the customer sees this as an expectation, not a point of difference that may affect his or her buying decision. If you’re not professional you won’t be on any short list ever, in the same way the customer expects you to be honest. Don’t try to use this as a point or differentiation.
Let your customer assume you are professional by the fact that everything works, and your website looks polished.
4. No strategic point of differentiation.
So many technology websites get this wrong, so 10 points for you if your website has a clearly defined point of difference.
You need to stand out in your market, so look at your closest competitors websites; what are they doing to stand out? Do they have a coherent strategy that is effectively communicated on their website?
What can you communicate about your brand that your customers care about that can really set you apart? You may have to go back to the drawing board to address your technology business’ positioning strategy if there really is nothing to set you apart.
5. Stock photos of smiling execs.
This one comes back to the “professional” look and feel that so many technology businesses go for, after all, smiling people in suits is sure to create the perfect impression, right? Except that no one, in the history of the internet has ever seen a photo like this and related to it in any way.
(If you can find a more yucky photo than this, please post it in the comments!)
It looks fake, and posed and it doesn’t look like me, nor any one I’ve ever worked with. In fact it has no more relevancy to my life than a smiling beauty queen toothpaste ad. It may work for toothpaste (probably not), but it’s meaningless cheeseballs marketing, that you should be avoided in technology websites.
6. Blogging is not done at all, or does not drive any results.
Blogging is important for technology marketers in both B2C and B2B arenas but it’s often missed completely, or else attempted for a short time and then cut when the results are lacking.
It’s important to note that content marketing takes time, and blogging by itself is just that – blogging. It’s not really marketing as it’s not done with any goals, strategy, nor any thought for conversions.
If you are going to write a tech blog (and you should because you have information that can really help your customers), then you should be writing 2-3 blog posts per week at least. You should first create buyer personas and do keyword research so that you are writing meaningful articles that your ideal buyers actually will want to read. Make them purely helpful, with no self promotion.
You should optimise the article for a particular keyword phrase, and you should have a Call-to-Action at the bottom of every blog post pointing to a relevant content offer.
Every blog post should be posted out over social media to build your audience.
It sounds like a lot, and it is, but as long as you start with the right foundations, and you don’t stop blogging and promoting, there’s no reason why it can’t work for you.
7. We can do all the graphic design ourselves.
In reality, you may be able to do this ok. If you have the time and inclination you may want to try, as you’ll pick up the software with no problem, and design work can be very enjoyable.
There are, however, many technology businesses whose websites don’t reflect the quality of their products and services, and like it or not, customers do just a companies worth based on the look and feel of their website. You woudn’t send a scruffy, smelly salesman in to meet your customers, and a website is just as much of a brand representative as your sales team, so make sure it’s just as smart.
If you’re not really passionate about design, or if you don’t have much time (and it takes a lot of that) you may want to get a designer to create Photoshop mockups for you, which you or your techies can put into production, or get a professional web designer to build you the base so you can take it forward from there.
Well, how did you do? If you’ve avoided all 7 Deadly Flaws then you deserve a pat on the back, and maybe celebrate be looking through the first ten websites that show up on Google for your main search term to see how well your competitors did. I wouldn’t be surprised if they all were guilty of 4 or more.
For more information about website tweaks as well as some other great lead generation ideas, check out our ebook below.