Many small business owners think of a web designer first when they want to update their website to improve online marketing and increase sales. Yet the perception that a web designer will help you make your website more effective often ends in a costly mistake.

What the business owners don’t realize is that most freelance website designers in Maui and elsewhere are specialized in making things visually appealing but too often they don’t know how to convert website visitors into customers. In fact, I’ve come across many who aren’t even familiar with best practices for user experience (UX) – the technical term for basic principles for improving the quality of the user’s interaction with and perception of your website and what it’s offering.

When hiring a local website designer, business owners are persuaded by the way they feel about the appearance of websites in the designer’s portfolio. They may be impressed with how professional or modern they look. Unfortunately, it takes more than an attractive website to make a sale.

Furthermore, if you’re looking at affordable web designers, their portfolio is likely full of websites built on pre-designed themes that have most or all the major design features included, which means even a novice can build a professionally looking website. There’s nothing wrong with using a pre-built theme and most local Maui businesses or small ecommerce businesses don’t need a custom built website, but a professionally looking website is not the same as an effective website.

Designing an effective website requires significant marketing knowledge and experience that most professionals who call themselves freelance web designers don’t have. They often view the process of web design as primarily relating to the layout and styling of text and images on web pages. However, it’s much more than that. The process of designing a website begins with a deep understanding of your customers, your brand and your products or services. It’s the only “place” you own online and it supports almost every element of the revenue stream.

If you are looking for a custom website, make sure you know what that means. Custom designed websites are very expensive and go beyond what you see on the front-end. There aren’t very many custom website designers in Maui and for the technical skills required, they’d be more appropriately called a developer. Most local web designers offer customization of a pre-built theme, even if they call it “custom.”

Whatever your requirements, the last thing you want is to replace one ineffective website with another. This is an unfortunate situation I hear about way too often as small businesses often find me after they’ve already spent precious resources on a website design only to find their sales in the same place they were pre-redesign or in some cases even worse than they were. The problem is that data wasn’t driving the redesign. In fact, starting over with a redesign doesn’t always make sense (see my post “Should You Redesign Your Website? Answer These Questions First“).

First you need to know what isn’t working before you can fix it.

This is so important. Not only do you want to make sure you’re investing where it matters, you want to ensure you’re not getting rid of the things that are working.¬†And when all is said and done, you should be able to measure the success of the changes you did make to help inform future decisions.

If you want to work with a professional in Maui who will focus on helping you reach your marketing goals and make the best use of your limited resources, I’d love to discuss what that means for your business. I can help you identify where changes need to be made and then help you take the steps to make them, including a website redesign if that’s what will lead to the desired results.

Contact me to schedule a free consultation