It’s getting harder to be a website designer. The barrier of entry is lower and lower.
There are a plethora of https://www.sitebuilderreport.com/best-website-builderwebsite builders on the market. And that’s not counting the WordPress page builders.
Now Gutenberg is picking up steam.
So what is a designer to do? After all, you are competing with people who have never learned to code using self-contained platforms.
It seems like once something has gone to market, it inevitably becomes commoditized.
We, as a culture, always seem to find a make something more efficient, which means more automated.
And so it goes on.
The website design industry has not escaped this reality.
I can remember when I first learned how to build a website almost 20 years ago.
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Simply having a website was a gamechanger for a company. Most companies simply did not have them.
Now, even the smallest companies have the most basic brochure website. I have seen companies in my town with websites on GoDaddy, Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, and Webflow.
Some even use WordPress.com.
Why do they do this?
You can whip those up quite quickly with a little time, an eye for design, and a little assistance.
Then there’s the phenomenon that’s putting the squeeze on agencies at the lower end: the so-called commoditisation of web design. Platforms like Squarespace have made good design widely available and affordable, meaning small companies with simple needs can now build their own sites. Agencies that have so far relied on this kind of business and don’t find ways to innovate will begin to see a downturn. Source: Net Magazine
But you know what? Almost every time you look at a website, you will find mistakes. That comes from experience.
Don’t compete with a page builder.
So, in light of all this, how in the world can a website designer compete in 2020 and beyond?
How can you as a website designer use innovation and create an advantage against website and page builders?
Create a Digital Marketing platform
I believe that we don’t need to sell websites. We need to sell digital marketing platforms. After all, if all a customer wants is a website, they can sign up for Squarespace. What do they need us for?
It is going to be hard to compete with someone who helps a business launch their website for $15 per month. And, the only way someone can make money selling $15 per month websites is by scaling to a massive amount of customers.
Now, if we, as a WordPress website designer, want to make money, we have to do something different.
Some are launching a turnkey website that is often called Website as a Service.
But what good is a website if you are not getting business for your client. The reality is if they are not making money, they will eventually move on from your services.
No, your website needs to drive growth and revenue for your client’s business.
To do this, you know, your client needs far more than a website. He or she needs to drive leads with an email capture. Your client needs to drive traffic to the website to generate these leads.
Your client needs to streamline his or her message to actually get conversions on their website.
It all goes together, and when one part is missing, then the entire process is broken.
And, of course, the two most important parts of your client’s platform is the email list and the website.
Sell your client on leads for their business.
If you do, however, make sure you deliver the leads.
Therefore, your services should include a website, email address, and a way to drive traffic to the website. Your service should also h include a messaging that hits the target.
The messaging may be the most crucial part of the entire process.
So, when you talk to prospective clients, the reason you cost more is you are delivering a digital marketing platform.
We are a place to innovate
As website designers, we can innovate. Just a few years ago, when content management software (CMS) became available, we were able to separate the presentation from the code.
This was a gamechanger because companies did not need to keep a developer on a retainer to update content.
It seemed bad for developers at the time. The first time I saw a CMS, I was floored.
The downside was that a CMS cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to create for a company.
Enter the open-source CMS.
A friend of mine who ran a coffee shop launched his website on one of those CMSs. He didn’t have to touch code to update the content on his site.
As more became available, we were able to use platforms like Joomla, Drupal, and ultimately, WordPress.
There were blogging platforms as well, but over time they became part of CMS.
Now we can innovate once again.
In some ways, you are already innovating. In the last decade, designers have placed a premium on managing the WordPress system for the websites they build.
You use MainWP to make this happen. It’s a great solution.
Now you have built some recurring revenue.
What if you created a digital marketing platform along with ongoing services and launched that as a monthly price for your customers?
Now you may be saying, “Todd, I am not an expert in these things.” I hear you.
There are some things I believe you can do to help your clients on an ongoing basis.
Additionally, there is nothing wrong with outsourcing work; you are not adept at executing. Simply figure that in the pricing. Definitely figure it in the pricing.
Wrapping it up
To be fair, if you are going to sell digital marketing services, you have to walk a line between selling a customer something they don’t know they need and speaking their language.
This can be a problem because sometimes your customer may say they need a better design, they want different colors, or focus on something they can only see.
You will need to walk them to the place where they see what they need. Asking penetrating questions can help.
Ask them what they want for the website to DO. Ask your customer what they want their website to accomplish.
Ask them what success looks like and dig. They will default to something like what they want from the design elements.
You have to press them, move them to how they want their website to impact their decision.
You will need to get them to see what success looks like in tangible numbers.
Much of this comes in the form of education. Create blog posts and emails that go to your list talking about these things.
How do you sell your websites? How do you sell your services?