As an artist at heart, I’m sure you can imagine the kind of backlash I might get for saying these sorts of things around my artist friends. And yes, at first you might be taken back a little too even if you’re not an artist. Let’s think about how many people ‘get a website’ and why the process might be killing their future. Harsh you think? Read on, you just might agree with me at the end.
So an average Joe needs a website. He knows nobody that makes them professionally, yet recalls seeing on countless websites, links that refer to template sites. Templates, or prefab website shells, are quite popular. Not only are they popular, but they are big business for sites like TemplateMonster.com. They offer an average Joe an opportunity to have a beautiful website, overnight. If you’ve read part 1 in this web “design” series, ‘why having a pretty site means nothing…’ you already know my perspective on pretty sites. If you haven’t read it, I’ll summarize by saying this: if your website is a supermodel in looks but talks like Gary Busey and behaves like PeeWee Herman, you won’t want to keep it around long. (side insert: If you don’t connect with my humor, I do apologize, but hopefully you’d agree that would be one scary website, a looker maybe, but scary none-the-less)
Not that I mind TemplateMonster or any other template service, I just happen to believe its role should be after the average Joe out there thinks carefully about the content strategy they’re going to have for their site. Content – original, compelling, lead catalyst content is what drives the most successful websites in the world, not beautiful graphics.
When a website project is started the artist should take direction from a team that gets the bigger picture. A little sales, a dash of marketing, some customer service & hopefully an inbound marketing consultant. A team with these ingredients will have the tools to create a website that gets customers to come to them. Content rich with relevant information & appropriate calls to action will be a large part of that bigger picture, and will play a key role to the websites overall success.
Nobody loves a beautiful site more than me & so I’ll close with this… I write on this topic mostly out of frustration. It’s disappointing being let down over and over again by beautiful sites that won’t be seen because the content on the site was an afterthought or borrowed from somewhere else. The artist in me and ones I’ve admired along the way, all seem to be connected by one common thread: The fulfillment that comes from having their work praised by their peers.
My suggestion to artists out there, don’t go rushing into your next design. A masterpiece is worth far more when there is an audience to appreciate it. To the website owner out there, building a content strategy and sticking to it is the most affordable & effective way to build that audience.