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Help Eradicate Pretty Picture Disorder from Website Design

website design is not a fashion show

Slava Zaitsev fashion show-2 courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

Today, I want to enlist your help with an affliction that is debilitating our business community. It’s an affliction that causes business owners to pay tens of thousands of dollars to companies who can build them a website that’s beautiful on the outside, but empty on the inside.

I call it Pretty Picture Disorder or PPD.

PPD is a disturbance in a business’s decision-making process, which normally is focused on increasing revenue and/or decreasing costs. PPD causes a disproportionate focus on the design aesthetics of a website instead of its role in helping to reach business goals. Think of it like a fashion show. When was the last time you saw someone wearing an outfit from a Paris fashion show? They’re not about selling product, they’re about the pageantry and hype. Is that what you want your website to be all about? Or do you want it to generate leads for you?

Before we continue, let me make something perfectly clear. Design is important. Aesthetics are important. An ugly website with a poor design is going to do great harm to your business. When a business contracts PPD, it means that they are overly or exclusively concerned about those things to the detriment of its business benefits.

How to Avoid PPD

If you want to help me fight this plague, you need to know that PPD is a communicable disease and patient zero for this disorder is almost always the web design company itself. Here are some of the signs that may indicate that a design firm could give you PPD:

  • PPD is frequently accompanied by very high price tags. In my experience, the more expensive the website, the less business value there is. With the advent of web Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress, websites can be built much, much faster today than several years ago. They can also easily include complex functionality like e-commerce shopping carts or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration easily and inexpensively with plugins and add-ons.
  • Large design firms or advertising agencies are breeding grounds for PPD. More people equals more overhead equals more PPD.
  • Industry awards are a dead giveaway for PPD. If a design firm talks about their award-winning websites, this is could be a symptom of stage four PPD and one should proceed with extreme caution.

It’s time to make something perfectly clear again. These are simply warning signs. If a website design firm exhibits one or more of these, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a carrier of PPD. There are plenty of large, prestigious, award-winning firms I know of personally that know how to add value and build great websites. But unfortunately, they are the minority.

If you really want to be sure you won’t catch PPD from your web designer, I’ve come up with 10 inbound marketing questions you can ask them. If they can answer those questions, then they’re PPD-free!

How to Diagnose PPD

Diagnosing PPD in a business owner is a little more straightforward. There is a simple, one-question test that you can administer. Ask them:

What are your top three conversion actions and goals for your website?

They should be able to immediately rattle off three goals that are action-oriented, which is to say that they begin with verbs. Examples include things like “Purchase a product” or “Download an ebook” or “Subscribe to our newsletter.” If they can’t tell you, get them checked into an inbound marketing clinic right away.

Update: Wow! No sooner did I hit the publish button than I saw this post from Hubspot about the importance of website design. As I said, design is certainly important. But so is strategy and functionality.


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