Roofers do it. Attorneys do it. Chiropractors do it.
Rather than work with a web designer who builds sites for all sorts of companies, some business people choose web design specialists who focus on building sites for particular niches.
Is this a smart idea, or not? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons.
Pros: Working with an Industry-Specific Website Design Firm
- They speak the lingo (They can actually SPELL “chiropractic.”)
- They understand the issues and concerns faced by business owners in that industry because they’ve worked with multiple companies.
- They understand the customer base and what’s hot, trending or topical; they may already know where to find current research, appropriate images and current content.
- If that design firm also does SEO (some don’t) – They have real-world experience, they should already know which keywords are most important and how difficult they are to rank for.
- Often – but not always – these are well-established larger firms with the resources and expertise to handle a variety of marketing needs.
Cons: Working with an Industry-Specific Web Design Firm
- They can be extremely expensive; you’re paying for the industry insight, the pre-built templates or the array of options, even if you don’t use them.
- They may also be working for your competitors. How would you feel if you’re paying a web design company to get your website to the top of Google for a particular search term – and two local competitors are paying them for the same thing?
- If they use identical templates and content for multiple websites, it hurts your search engine rankings because your site is less unique. This is more common among lower-cost providers. Sometimes you don’t even own your domain name.
- They’re less likely to innovate or offer perspectives from other sites/industries.
- Proprietarial design and content management systems may make it difficult for you to make site updates, get help with site management, or redo the site if you ever change your mind.
- Larger firms may be impersonal and less focused on the success of any individual website/company. You may find that they’re less inclined to answer your questions or make site modifications to suit your preferences.
What’s most important to you?
One angle to consider is not only what you have to gain but what you have to lose by a particular decision. Which costs more? What kind of support are you getting for the money? How much are you willing or able to do on your own? How difficult will it be to use a different web designer if the relationship turns sour?
A lot of the advantages are less important than they might seem, in my opinion. As someone who’s built websites for many different kinds of companies, I can tell you it’s not that hard to find websites to give me ideas. And I have the tools and experience to do keyword research for the search engines; it’s not that time-consuming or expensive to do, especially for local markets.
Besides, part of my job is to get to know your business and your online marketing goals. You, presumably, can tell me what you do and what’s special about your business. You can probably show me sites you like (and don’t like) to use as examples.
I believe that personal connection is key, regardless of the size of the web design company or the industry specialization. Are you working with someone you can trust as a business adviser, someone who has your best interests in mind?
If so, working with an industry web design specialist can be a distinct advantage.
If not – the possible savings or convenience aren’t worth it.