Never Simply Outsource Your Website.
Businesses, including those that do not have offices, have websites. Whether your daily operation involves mowing lawns around the block or distributing products around the world, the website is viewed by many as the front door of your business, and more often, the presentation centre.
It is undoubtedly an efficient practice, at least on the balance sheet and cash flow table, to have your website built and managed by third party professionals. However, doing so may result in the company losing the opportunity to make full use of the power of a website has.
The website is a comparatively inexpensive way of showcasing products, services and the value of an enterprise. A great leader of a company would not outsource the job of setting the company value to a third party, for the reason that only people who work as part of the company or have close relationship with the company are able to experience the culture and value within the organization. The same theory applies when it comes to web design. A great website is not only an online portal for business, but also a channel of output for company value. To the public, it is a readily accessible self portrait of the company.
First, appearance. Most official websites have looks that coincide with their stores, offices, and general color theme. For example, McDonalds.com has yellow and red elements now on a black background to match their new face-lifted 'McCafe' design. Ford.com has a slightly blue color tone to match the color of their logo. And apple.com has a very clean look as a part of the minimalistic design mindset the company advocates. It is natural for a designer, whether hired or contracted, to use the general color theme of a company for webpages.
Next, interaction. This is one part that most outsourced third party web designers miss. And it is at the same time where company value can be incorporated into a website. It is usually hard to quantify how user experience affects the company value and inheritably the value of their products and services. But products that offer great user experience certainly gain the market, eg. Apple iOS devices. And great user experiences take place only when the designer knows the customers and what they demand.
The first little company that I started with a few friends expanded amazingly fast. At the time when all of our competitors thought of is as a strictly referral business, most of our customers did business with us simply because they googled what they wanted and visited our website. Our website was designed to show exactly what they want to see and how they want to see it. It is not magic. It is not because we are professional web developers -- we were indeed not a web design company at that time. It is because we meet customers every day and understand their desire. And it is because we did our own website.
That being said, it is not to say every owner, president, director and manager should design their own website. The website designer needs to know the business well. The website designer need to know what is attractive from the prospective customers' point of view. Nonetheless, a great website is one that brings in more customers and helps put more money in shareholders' pockets.