Startups: Is A Professional Website Design Necessary?

July 24, 2014By
Startup Productivity

For most startups, professional design isn’t necessary.

If your business is like GBW then you might not have a lot of startup costs.

There are definitely businesses that need upfront cash so they can buy supplies or whatever it might be before they can sell something to a customer. But I’m a fan of the businesses that focus on spending little to no money before they get customers.

Customers are the thing any business needs most.

Business is kind of backwards sometimes. You think about an idea and try to figure out how to make it amazing, but you can get away from the fact that someone has to pay you for that product or service.

With GBW, I had been blogging for my own blog when someone asked if I would help them write a post for their blog. I hadn’t really thought about it so I asked them what they would pay for a service like that. Shortly after, GBW was born.

A Startup Website

After I got my first two customers, I thought it was time to launch a GBW website. I paid for a basic theme on WordPress, made a few customizations and launched the site.

It had the very basic things a website needs along with the flexibility to change the content on the site.

The total cost as something like $75 and it could have been $0 if I would have went with a free theme.

A mistake a I see some startups making is that they’ll want to invest money in a great website right away. Sure, an amazing website right out of the gate can be wonderful, but for startups it’s really not the highest item on the priority list.

Your priority list should look something like this:

  1. Get first customer
  2. Get second customer
  3. Figure out price, cost and profit
  4. Get feedback from customers
  5. Get more customers
  6. Analyze and improve the sales process
  7. Get more customers
  8. Tweak product or service
  9. Launch website and scale

The big realization with this list is that you can get customers without a website. Even with all the technology we have it’s still possible to get a customer without spending money. It can take work, but you can do it.

I outlined a few ways in two posts.

Since that first GBW website things have changed. I’ve learned about the sales process at GBW. I’ve learned about the customers and the exact service they want.

I made content changes to the early website based on those things. And I still make changes because I’m always learning new ways to tweak the content on the site.

That’s another big thing with websites – design is very important, but content is just as important. Your content has to answer the questions your customer would have if you were talking to them in person.  Your website is a salesperson.

In real life, it helps if the salesperson looks nice, but even someone that doesn’t look that great can make a sale if they say the right things.

Startup Website Decision

I look back now on the first version of GBW and cringe a little, but mostly I smile. That site worked pretty well. I will probably look at the current site and think the same in a few years, but right now I love it.

Once GBW got rolling a little bit I invested more into the design. The look now is professional and represents the brand. It’s a good environment for my target visitors and it helps convert those visitors into inquiries and clients.

I’m a fan of design, but for startups you don’t need professional design right away. It can be too expensive. Instead, get something basic. Focus on the content. Get your first few customers. Learn about your business.

Then hire a professional designer to help shore things up.