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Who Can and Can’t Do Websites?

I recently talked with a sailing buddy who had the idea that we were only a design company and couldn’t do websites. We’ve faced this misconception before: clients who have us do everything else, then take their website to a web development company.

The result is the site as a marketing tool is an orphan. It doesn’t fit in with the rest of their branding – the way they look and sound. It doesn’t support the rest of their marketing map. We have been called in for rescue efforts.

Is this a perception of Rapport, or of the industry?

I know this friend socially, not professionally. People in that situation think of me as a graphic designer, they think I’m younger than I am and just have no clue what Rapport has grown into after ten years. This friend could think I’m a freelancer working from home like so many independent designers. If I were, he would be correct in his assumptions – designers don’t make good web developers, and web developers don’t make good designers – they are two very different skill/talent sets. When one tries to do both, one component or the other suffers. They both need a thorough brief from someone with a good high-level understanding of the client and their ideal clients.

I said to my friend “we’re a full service marketing firm”, at which he scoffed then asked if I farm out my web development. There are many smaller companies that say they do websites, call themselves full-service but actually farm everything out. I answered honestly that we do farm out some – if there’s more than can be handled here or for special technical requirements. However, we really do most in-house.

Maybe my buddy’s perception is of the industry. There are a lot of large design and advertising agencies that have been really slow to incorporate web and just don’t understand the finer differences from analog marketing. There are many that have done a fantastic job adding digital to their offerings. There are some, like Rapport that grew up with web as part of the deal and do it naturally.

Development and knowing how to communicate in this medium.

To me, the development is the easy part. About 90% of websites are pretty straightforward – versus a bank with a zillion customer logins, high security, connecting to huge systems, etc. With great tools like WordPress – which we’re using a lot – most sites don’t need to be built by a specialty firm, just a good coder. It’s so 2005 to think only web developers can create websites.

What’s harder is finding the best way to talk to customers in this interactive medium and making it fit in with your brand strategy and marketing objectives.

Any truly full-service communications company should be able to incorporate websites and digital marketing into your plan and make them work hard for you.

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