How creating a website forces you to focus on your business goals

Focus on your business goals when designing a websiteThis is a guest post by Cynthia LaLuna, Creative Director of Rowboat Media.

So you know you need a website, or that the old one you have isn’t serving you well. Sometimes, if you’re an established business with a certain type of momentum, the thought can be paralyzing.

We’re in the same boat here in the Rowboat (shoemaker’s children), and we’ve started and stopped on our OWN design several times.

While it’s easy to tell a designer, “make pretty new website,” what’s harder is answering the key questions that any designer worth her salt will ask you:

  • Who is your target market? What are they REALLY looking for? (Hint: bankruptcy clients aren’t looking for bankruptcy – they’re looking for peace of mind.)
  • Do you know the demographic breakdown, in terms of age, ethnicity, occupation, education, state of mind?
  • Does your ideal client have a persona? Describe them – what they’re wearing, what kind of car they drive, what they think about more than anything else from day to day.
  • What do you WANT to be selling with your website? Now is the time to get clear on where you make most of your money, and if you want it to stay that way or take this opportunity to shove things in a different direction.
  • What is the persona of your business? How do you wish it to come across to others? What makes YOUR offering different from the guy down the street?
  • Who do you NOT want to serve? With content and design choices, you can actually do some pre-screening.

This is SO HARD. Most of us are so busy working IN our businesses that stepping back to do the necessary analysis feels like trying to change the fan belt on your car while hurtling down the Interstate.

The buck cannot be passed.

Unfortunately, a designer can’t answer these questions FOR you, and if you want to help them create something that really works for your business, they need to be answered.

A consultant can’t answer them either. All they can do is give you worksheets to fill out with annoying, probing questions like the ones above and then charge you a chunk of change to read your answers, and collate them into pretty infographics. Or pie charts.

A good consultant asks the right questions and then gives you an interpretation based on your answers. Kind of like a therapist.

Don’t spend your hard-earned money on ANY kind of advertising – including a website – until you’ve answered these questions for yourself.

And – since we all know that we can’t get by without tooting our horns, isn’t it time to get cracking?

If you’ll excuse me, it’s past time for me to go annoy MYSELF with some silly questionnaire…


  1. Hi Nick,

    You are absolutely correct – if you have $5000 to spend your options are limitless, and if you know how to code and want to spend your life doing it, then the premium themes are a great starting point. If, however, you have a business to run and need something that looks good but doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, while still getting a level of personal service that takes the stress off your shoulders, there isn’t a whole lot in the middle. And the big law marketing companies will be happy to let you “rent” a quasi-custom website for a certain price per month but the minute you stop paying the website vaporizes.

    We’re changing that this summer. We’re actively working on a handful of in-house frameworks on which we’ll do exactly what you describe, and they’ll clock in at $2500 up front or $250/month for 12 months, at which time the client owns the website. They can stay on the maintenance program for a small monthly fee after that.

    Thank you so much for confirming that we’re doing the right thing – and Dan Kennedy rocks!

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