marketing
& design

Title Card for Owl Street Studio's blog article, "The Hidden Flaw in DIY Websites That Ruins Your Business"
Photo of Owl Street Studio's founder, Brian Rawson
Brian Rawson \
March 30, 2020
Photo of Owl Street Studio's founder, Brian Rawson

Listen to the podcast version of this article here on SPOTIFY and YOUTUBE.

HTML to Drag and Drop

Website development has slipped from the fringe hands of tech experts to the open grasp of the masses. Starting out, knowing html, css, and Javascript code was the only way you could make a website. Then as the internet grew, you could buy premade websites in the form of templates and themes on sites like Wordpress and Tumblr. Now, you don’t need to know code or buy a prefab site.

Now, you can design your own site by dragging and dropping elements into a page layout. Sites like Wix and Squarespace provide this web design freedom and access.

But what they don’t tell you is that, if you do use their service and build your own drag/drop site, your website will house a fatal flaw.

No, this flaw won’t literally harm anyone, but it can choke your business.

Here’s what that flaw is and how you can remove it.

The Fatal Flaw in Drag and Drop Websites

The flaw in these sites is selfishness. I know, not what you were expecting. But I’m serious. Now let me unpack how these sites are selfish and how that character flaw brings your business down.

First, overall, nothing is flawed in the technology of these drag/drop sites. The HTML code isn’t broken or selfish. Sure the quality of these sites varies. But this is not the article that ranks which ones are the best. Today we’re looking at what is beyond the code.

What’s beyond the code?

PEOPLE.

Code is just a tool. A drag/drop builder is just a tool. It’s like a hammer and then a 3D printer, code and then a site builder.

We all know a tool is only as good as the person using it. Anyone can pick up and swing a hammer but does everyone have the expertise to build a house from foundation to roof, or even to build a bookshelf from lumber to conversation piece?

To be honest, drag and drop site builders thrill me. I actually love them. As far as tools go, they’re amazing. Again the flaw of these sites isn’t in the code. It’s in the people building them. Now, I don’t mean a DIY web designer is a bad person. They just don’t have expertise. Would the work of a paint by numbers by esteemed as much as a work by Matisse?

But here’s the great thing. As a business owner, as a DIY website builder, why in the world would you want to be a web expert?! (Of course, unless your business is web development.)

You want to be an expert at your business! - an expert baker, restaurateur, attorney, therapist, accountant, or bookseller.

How you, as a business owner, get in a bind is that:

1.You know you're not a web expert,
2.You don't have time to become one, and
3.You still need a website.

So you go to Wix.com. You drag. You drop. You publish. And you move on with your business work and your life.

But since you’re not an expert, you totally missed the giant flaw you just embedded into your business website. And Wix doesn’t tell or show you this flaw. They’re in the business of charging you to drag a photo here and a email address there.  They’re not in the business of giving you expertise.

I’m here to charge you nothing and in exchange give you web and marketing expertise. So, let’s keep going.

How Your WIX Site is Selfish

Your Wix site is selfish because it doesn’t think about your customers and clients at all. It only thinks about you. It steers you into building a site YOU think looks good. Not a site your customers and clients think looks good.

It directs you to build a site YOU think functions smoothly and provides all the right information. It does not build a site that your customers and clients think functions well and answers all of their questions.

I know you’re pressed for time. I know you’re on a budget. And I know you didn’t intend to make a selfish website. I’m sure you didn’t even know you had made a site like that. But, as the saying goes, “what you don’t know could kill you.”

But now that you know how your site is secretly flawed, let’s talk about how to remove that flaw, how to remove that black mass and save your business.

Save Your Website Before It's Too Late

How do you remove your site flaw? How do you remove digital selfishness? Exactly how you scrub away all other forms of selfishness: with empathy.

When building your site, you must build it through your customers’ and clients’ eyes, through their mindset. You must build your site to answer their questions. You must build it to showcase how your product and service solves their problems and needs.

Of course, to do all of this, you have to truly know how your customers and clients think. You need to know what motivates them, what struggles they face, and how they see the world. You have to have a deep empathic imagination. You have to stretch your mind to walk a mile in their mental shoes.

Maybe you already do this. Maybe you already have detailed demographic and psychographic profiles for each of your customer and client segments. If so, that’s great! Your over half way there. Now you just have to leverage and channel those profiles and information into messages and visuals that speak and appeal directly to your segments. And maybe you’re already doing this too. If so, you are truly a savvy and successful business owner; and you don’t need this article at all.

If, on the other hand, you don’t have these detailed profiles and consequently are not leveraging that information to truly reach your customers and clients, then keep reading.

To save your website (and your business), you have to know your customers and clients. To do that, you have to accomplish three tasks:

1.You have to research your customer and clients. For example, you can research the census data of your city, or you can interview and survey your customers and clients.

2.Then you have to analyze your findings. You have to sift the data for patterns, themes, correlations and/or causations.

3.After that, you craft these conclusions into readable, actionable customer and client profiles
.

If that all sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is a lot of work. In my experience, the data gathering and sorting part is hard work; but it’s analyzing and leveraging the data that is truly challenging.

To craft this data into something useful, you have to utilize multiple skill sets. You have to be analytical and creative, objective and imaginative, removed and empathetic. You have to think like a mathematician, strategist, anthropologist, novelist, and psychologist. You have to be able to read the data and then read between the lines of the data to discover the internal driving emotions of your customers and clients.

How Customer Profiles Save Your Website

Let’s see how all of this comes together through an example:

Say your run a hotel near the airport. You just finished your new drag and drop website. You followed a template.

Admittedly, the layout of the template is nice. It has a clean upper navbar, easy to read headers and paragraphs. And you put, front and center, a large photo slideshow displaying your lobby and rooms.

Why?

Because from your experience and anecdotal information, you believe your customers biggest need is for clean, cozy lodging. So to appeal to that need, you follow the template and display a slideshow of your rooms.

But, this decision is based on what YOU think.

It’s not based on what YOUR customers actually think.

Now, let’s rewind the tape... This time, before you build your drag and drop site:
1.you research your customers,
2.analyze the findings, and
3.a) create in-depth customer profiles using demographics (explicit information such as customers’ average yearly income, location, and education) and
b) psychographics (implicit information such as customers’ inner beliefs,  personality, and aspirations).

From these profiles, you learn your customer demographics. You learn that the top 20% of your customers that drive 80% of your sales are women, 27-35yr, college educated, in upper business management, from the East Coast. You discover these findings through loyalty club customer surveys and census data.

You then learn your customers psychographics. You gather this information from one-on-one interviews with loyalty club customers, PEW research foundation articles, and Behavioral Economics and Social Psychology academic journals.

From this info, you learn that for the first time in recent decades women hold more college degrees and business management positions than men. You hear the discourse between Third and Fourth Wave Feminists. And you also learn how social externalities affect women.

Now, from connecting seemingly unrelated dots within your research, you learn that your top customers’ true driving needs are:

1. SOCIAL RECOGNITION, 2. PERSONAL EXPRESSION, AND 3. PHYSICAL SAFETY.

Using this in-depth customer profile as the foundation, you then build your drag and drop website. This time you don’t drop in what YOU think looks good, you drop in what you know YOUR customers think looks good.

Instead of just showing the inside of your hotel rooms, you show a brand new Audi G8 parked at your entrance with messaging that explains your free, 24hr personal valet service to anywhere in the city and suburbs and how your valet fleet is made up of individual, unique vehicles. Thus, a customer has totally access to the city and freedom to follow their personality.

After that, you show a dashing gentleman holding the entrance door open and explain that each customer receives a personal password with their booking and only those who furnish the proper code may enter. Thus, you provide an exclusive experience to your customers.

You also show how there is a simple, teal call button placed every 5 feet through the building and in each room that alerts the staff placed on that floor’s courtesy station (and there’s a courtesy station on each floor). Thus, each customer has immaculate personal safety.

Each one of these services appeals directly to your top customers true needs:

1. the need for social recognition (you offer them an exclusive experience that leaves their peers watching outside);
2. personal expression (you offer them both exclusivity and personal control-they decide if they want someone to come in with them by passing along the entrance word or not; they select a valet car that suites their style; and they have the freedom to go wherever they want with the assurance of an easy ride there and back); and
3. physical safety (your customers have private lodging, transportation, and accommodations while simultaneously having staff to attended to their any need just a few feet away).

How All That "Demographic" Stuff Saves Your Website

Knowing how to appeal to your customers true needs affects how you structure everything related to your business, including your website.

Continuing our example, before, you would build your site with a slideshow to display your rooms. Now, you may build it with an interactive button users can click and then see a live video feed from a courtesy desk showing a staff member waving in response to their digital call.

This feature on the your site would demonstrate one of your unique services; it would make your site memorable in contrast to the hundreds of other hotel sites that all look they same; and it would cement your brand promise of providing unique, easy to use yet exclusive services.

But, most importantly of all, it would appeal to your customers’ deep driving needs instead of just a surface need.


How to Make a Killer Website Without Losing Your Mind

Again, if all of this sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is.

I know first hand how time strapped and resource strapped you can be as a startup and entrepreneur, and I know that if you waited to get everything perfect before you opened your business, you’d never be able to open it.

But I also know how central a quality website is to ensuring a business’ success.

Alongside all of that, I believe you deserve to build your dream, and I believe your dream shouldn’t be held up by 1’s and 0’s, by html, css, or Javascript.

So don’t choose between spending time doing what you love (running your business) or building a compelling website.

Do both.

Together, you can run your business and make a terrific website.

Because together, we can learn exactly who your customers are and what they need; and we can build a website that will make your business stand out and thrive.

And together, we can do all of this without you choosing between buying bread or hiring a marketing firm.

Each project is unique, so we do not have a flat rate. Instead, we offer a free initial meeting, where we learn more about you, your business, your short term and long term goals, and the challenges currently preventing you from reaching those goals.

We also offer unique payment structures based on your business situation.

Plus, we offer a referral gratitude: tell your business friend about us, and, if they begin an official project with us, we’ll take off a set dollar amount from your project price. (If you’re the gregarious type, you could send us enough referrals to have your project cost you - nothing.)

Together, we’re building place for each of us to follow our passion, live our dreams, and live a good life all at the same time.

Together, we’re building you a kick-ass website, understanding your customers, and ensuring your dream, your business lives long and prospers.

Take time to look through our case studies here.

See some of our web design in the following section.

And, then start your project. Send us a message here.

Website for Defy Domestic Abuse Beloit

With our web sites, we create every aspect, from the code to the content - from the SEO to the ecommerce.

For example, with the website for Defy Domestic Abuse Beloit, we created the:
- graphic design content,
- written content,
- site design, and
- site development.

Their site includes: full mobile responsiveness functionality \ extra safety and security features for visitors \ multiple languages \ animations \ and advocacy landing pages.

Due to logistical reasons, we created Defy's site both as a stand alone website and as a site within their parent organization’s larger Wix website.

Currently, the stand alone site is not open to the general public but you can still see Defy’s brand come to life by watching the scroll through of both versions of the website; and you can visit both sites.

- | Visit Defy's stand alone website here.

- | Visit Defy’s Wix website here.



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