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How To Choose The Best Web Company |  September 02, 2015 (2 comments)


Miami, FL—Owning Continental Buying Group and Preferred Jewelers International, I am constantly asked by jewelers about finding a good web design agency, “one that will do almost everything because we are not tech savvy.”

The answer is not that easy.  Everyone is different, their needs and budgets are different, and the outcome they’re looking for is different. But one thing is true for every jeweler, regardless of their online goals: the quality of your website does reflect your store, which—however indirectly—impacts sales.

We’ve done a lot of research on this, especially since launching Preferred Jewelers International. Everything on the administrative side of the Preferred website can become complicated and requires a lot of security. I found the first thing you need to do when looking for the right web designer is to break it down.

1. Know Your Bottom Line. What do you want your web site and Internet marketing to achieve?  You must carefully consider your aim, goals, and needs, and how you are going to achieve all the tasks you need your site to do. For example: If your web site is mainly an online store or online buying /e-commerce, your focus is going to be on return on investment (ROI), conversion of sales, and building and maintaining your customer base.

If you are launching a new site and you need brand awareness, you will need to provide information and education about services or products.  So in this case, you need good visibility and strong graphics to attain focus.

When you know what you need to accomplish your goals, you will be able to see what agency or web designer is the right one for you. When asking an agency to help you find the right web site designer for you, ask them to provide solid proof of their capabilities. They should be able to show you case studies or examples of how they have approached a problem and how they have provided a solution.

2. Cost vs. Value. This is usually the elephant in the room. Cost is definitely a deal maker or deal breaker, especially when hiring a web designer, web master or agency.  As with everything else you purchase, the phrase “you get what you pay for” rings true in the world of web design and development.  If you begin to cut costs solely for saving a dollar now, you may not reap as much value long-term when it comes to delivering the results you want.

So how can you justify the costs of your project? It’s simple math, but you as a business owner must do the research.

  1. What have you spent in the last year on your marketing and advertising?
  2. In the past five years?
  3. How have those efforts brought a return on your investment?

My advice is this: Ask your agency if they can provide clear evidence of the value delivered through tangible results. Remember this is about value, not cost. If the agency can provide a website or service that brings ROI, then its cost isn’t a deal breaker.  Don’t let sticker shock blind you from your goals. 

I have found when jewelers go back and do some research on their own they find they have been spending money elsewhere without results for quite some time.  Frustrating!

3. Identify A Solid Track Record. This is not necessarily how long an agency has been in business. In fact, a lot of new agencies have stellar ideas and new methods to consider. The main point (this is huge) is: how much the web company and/or agency understand your industry and have they delivered effectively a similar or successful solution to their other clients within your industry?

4. Communicate and Learn. The ever-changing web is highly complex and a technically challenging monster. So it is highly important that you understand what your web agency is talking about and doing. When you enter into a discussion with them, they should be on your side, working hard to explain what they do, how they do it and most importantly, why they are doing it. If you are ever lost or confused by any part of the discussion, it’s not your fault, it’s theirs.

5. Recognize That Content Is Your Responsibility. You no doubt have come up with your own reasons for either a makeover or a re-launch of a new site. Most of the time the first thing to consider is the way your site looks and functions.  But, truly the most important part of your site is content.

If an agency or site builder tackles art before content, you’re in the wrong place, working with the wrong folks. One man said to me it’s like “putting lipstick on a pig.”

Your agency needs to dig deep. They need to ask you the right questions about your customers, your business and your industry. If they are not, the red flags should be going up and you should be out the door!

Even though this is my step 5, it honestly is the most important aspect to consider.  Again, content first. Whether they create or receive from a copywriter, they are building the framework that houses your content. They must know how your users will interact with the content and how you will manage content in the future. This ensures your website is delivering your message and maintains it’s quality in years to come.

6. Know What You Want To Achieve. Be realistic, invest some time and thought into your goals and expectations from your agency. Define what it is in six months or a year’s time and that will reassure you that your money was spent well.

Think beyond “first on Google” or “getting more traffic.” What are some goals you can reach?

7. Know Your Strategy. A good web agency should be offering you a clear, concise web strategy. This goes beyond your website. A good strategy gives your business a strong sense of authority, relevance and trust!  When you have a solid plan you are able to measure. When you measure you’re able to make good decisions based on real data. This should convert site visitors into paying customers.

8. Maintaining The Quality of Your Investment. After the launch of your new site, the agency should maintain a healthy relationship with you.  Depending on how involved you are with the maintenance and publishing of content, a good agency will assist you in your analytic reporting and ensure your website is helping you reach your goals.

Usually you will want to keep an ongoing relationship, why not?  You should ask how they have assisted other clients and do they have on-going maintenance? Do they have service plans on a monthly or quarterly basis?

I certainly hope this helps.  It helped me with both of my companies, especially Preferred. Good luck – and keep up with technology!

Andie Weinman, president and CEO of Preferred Jewelers International / Continental Buying Group Inc., was born with the “Jewelry Gene” working in the jewelry industry since she was only ten years old. Her first job was as a cashier in the opening of a catalog showroom doing a fantastic job even at that tender age. Andie holds a B.A. in musical theatre and a B.S. in marine biology from The University of Tampa. When she realized that seawater and marine biology were not good on her hair and she wasn’t quite good enough to make it on Broadway, the jewelry business beckoned. Andie has picked diamonds, sorted color stones, shot waxes and performed a multitude of jobs in the manufacturing of jewelry.  Her negotiating experience and prowess has given her the reputation as being tough but fair in her dealings with vendors. In 2012 the Indian Diamond and Color Association awarded Andie the Prestigious Doyenne Award of the Year.

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Comments (2):

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By Michael Pucci on Sep 4th, 2015 at 2:15pm

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By Michael Pucci on Sep 4th, 2015 at 2:17pm

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