No One Cares How You Build a Website | Digital Masters

Episode #33

No One Cares How You Build a Website

web developer explaining website benefits

Want to hear a secret that no customer will tell you?

They really don’t care how you do what you do. It’s true!

In fact, they really only care about what they actually understand – what they’re going to get out of how you do what you do.

Here’s the somewhat sad truth about humanity – we really just care about ourselves. Our problems, our needs, our businesses. While yes, it can be great that you’re using PHP to make their website, they don’t care. They don’t care if their website runs off the latest javascript library either. They do care, however, what the website you’re building is going to do for their business.

In today’s episode, I’m going to break down exactly what your customers care about and how you can communicate to them in a way that will improve your sales and even your reviews. Let’s get started.

Benefits vs Features

When we talk about looking at the benefits, it can be hard to understand what that means. After all, maybe you build great SquareSpace websites. Or you build custom WordPress solutions with a suite of plugins that power the website. Perhaps you’ve even written your own custom theme that’s just incredible compared to the competition. You want people and your clients to know exactly how you’re building their projects! Isn’t that what makes you different than the other web developers they’re talking to?

Short answer is – no. Not at all. I can tell you, after 17 years that most of my clients still have very little interest in how I’m doing what I do. They do care, however, that what I’m doing is going to solve a problem for them.

I love this Mario graphic from UserOnboard, because it perfectly illustrates the point. Do your customers care about the product – the flower – or the fact that consuming the flower gives them the ability to throw fireballs? As an avid Super Mario Brothers player, I can tell you right now that it wasn’t the flower that I got excited about getting, but the ability to make destroying my enemies a whole lot easier.

Mario becoming super fireball Mario

The same concept applies to your clients. They might like the fact that your website comes with security, on-going maintenance, and is super fast – but what they really care about are the results they’re going to get from that website.

Especially when you’re dealing with the foundation to a business’s entire marketing strategy, what they get out of it is far more important than how it was built.

The Problem with Tech

And that’s sort of the problem with us in the tech industry. Not just web developers, but in other start ups and businesses throughout the market, we get a little excited about all the cool features we’ve baked into our services and products. That’s because, frankly, we’re nerds and it’s really cool that we were able to make our thing do this or that.

Here’s the harsh truth – the people buying your thing just really don’t care. They don’t care because honestly, they’re not deep into the tech world like we are. And unfortunately, tech and websites have a tendency to be alienating for a lot of our customer base. It’s not that anyone couldn’t learn the terminology and get more comfortable with it, but the truth is that tech-speak scares most of our customer base. They (wrongly) think that you have to be some kind of genius to code and build websites. The mere question of “Where is your domain hosted?” has sent several of my clients into confused panic attacks.

Again, a lot of this isn’t as difficult as people think it is. But we’ve built a wall of confusion around tech, an air of mysticism, throughout the years. I also know plenty of people (young and old) that are just not tech savvy.

When you put a lot of your focus into the different tech aspects of what you’re doing, you’re potentially alienating a lot of your audience.

What Do Business Owners Want?

If the business owners you’re going to be working with don’t care about all the cool features you’re putting into their websites, what do they care about then?

For one, they care about return on investment. If there’s no ROI on that website, then they’re not going to be particularly happy with the fact that they’ve spent thousands of dollars with you. Think of it this way – if a website is going to be an investment of say $5,000 for a business, it has to do something to get that $5,000 back for the business you’re working with.

It’s Not All About ROI

Creating ROI means doing things to make sure the websites you’re building will actually convert and be marketing machines. Luckily for you, I covered that in more detail in episode 15.

But not all ROI is strict sales, either. Sometimes you have to think outside the box a bit and discover what your client is actually looking for from their website.

Want to know a few things business owners have told me (or indirectly told me) they wanted out of their websites?

  • More sales
  • More email subscribers
  • Easier purchasing options
  • Ability to make changes themselves
  • Reducing time-wasting phone calls
  • Increasing leads through contact forms and phone calls
  • Higher quality job applicants
  • Fewer confused customers or employees

Not all of the benefits you’re helping your clients with are going to be direct or even make sense to you. But you do want to ensure that you’re paying attention to what your prospects are saying.

Asking the Right Questions for a Website Build

If you’re unsure of how to find out what benefits make the most sense for your target audience, you might talk to some of your current clients. Ask them what they like about their websites? How has their new website made their life easier? How have their sales gone since they launched their new website?

You’ll start a conversation that will help guide you to your individual unique benefits. And not every web developer or web designer is going to be created equal. One of my specialties, for instance, is making the website super easy to update. I work with my clients closely during the Discovery phase and ask a lot of questions about where they want to go and how they want to grow their business. This helps me to understand what they might want to change on their website more frequently and then I build the website to be super easy for them to update.

I even provide training and training videos once the project is over so that they can feel comfortable with the entire process. Even though a majority of my customers choose to have me make those updates for them in the long run, they still enjoy knowing that they can. And the clients who manage their own websites often love to tell me how easy it all is.

Make sure that any time you start a new project you ask at least this question – “In an ideal world, how would this website help make your life easier?” It’s amazing how the conversation flows from there. Sometimes the answers are automations. Sometimes the answers involve just creating an FAQ page or making the facility’s hours a lot easier to see. The answers will be unique to that client’s business, but that doesn’t mean the concept is any different.

How to Talk About Website Benefits

Now that we have a little bit better of an idea on focusing on benefits versus features, the question is how do you do that in the website world? Especially, how do you do that in your own marketing where you’re not talking necessarily to one prospect but to many at once through social media and your own website?

I like to create what I call a Jargon Thesaurus when I’m working on client projects. It helps me to break down the typical industry terms and put it into the way a customer might actually speak about it. This helps with keyword research, improving website copy, and their overall marketing message.

You can do basically the same thing when it comes to Features vs Benefits.

If you’re multitasking, I suggest stopping and grabbing a pen and paper or pull out your Notes app.

I want you to write out the main features that you include in every website you build.

Common Website Features

Here’s some basic features that can get you started:

  • Built for fast page load
  • Built on a secure environment
  • Created in WordPress or SquareSpace
  • Use a page builder like Elementor or Divi
  • Follow Digital Accessibility best practices
  • Write content for on-page SEO
  • Use plugins like Gravity Forms
  • Monthly maintenance to update plugins and WordPress
  • Hosting with an SSL
  • Custom design for your brand

Now, a lot of this is pretty technical. Do my clients really care about an SSL? Or that I follow best practices for digital accessibility (I’ll be honest, I struggle to get my Digital Marketing students who are seniors and MBA students to understand Digital Accessibility; are my clients really going to get the importance of that)?

But this is often how I see other web developers and website designers talk about the websites they build. There’s a reason that it’s not really connecting with your client base because honestly, it’s hard for a client to really see what they get out of all of those features.

Turning Them Into Benefits

Let’s take those same features and turn them into the benefits. These are the outcomes that a client gets from those features.

  • Built for fast page load – Your website loads quickly to capture leads
  • Built on a secure environment – Your website is secure, preventing it from being hacked
  • Created in WordPress or SquareSpace – I use a popular website platform that’s proven and easy to understand
  • Use a page builder like Elementor or Divi – I use one of the most popular theme builders to make your website easy to update
  • Follow Digital Accessibility best practices – I make your website inclusive to improve SEO and prevent ADA lawsuits
  • Write content for on-page SEO – I help your website get found on Google by the right people
  • Use plugins like Gravity Forms – I make gathering contact form submissions easy and foolproof
  • Monthly maintenance to update plugins and WordPress – I take care of your website for you so you don’t have to worry
  • Hosting with an SSL – Your website is set up to protect credit card transactions and forms, giving your customers peace of mind
  • Custom design for your brand – I create a custom look that truly matches your branding

See how different that is?

Now I want you to go back to that list of features you wrote out and translate them into the benefits they’re providing your customers. This can take some creativity and might take some discussions with your current client base, but you want to focus overall on how what you’re putting into a website helps your clients’ businesses.

Switching Your Way of Thinking

This switch isn’t easy for a lot of businesses, not just us tech people, but when you change how you approach clients and instead focus on the benefits you’re providing them, your entire marketing strategy will change.

When you know exactly how you’re helping your clients, how you’re making their lives easier and how you’re increasing their revenue, it becomes a lot easier to sell that to others.

Remember, when you’re working with other businesses and business owners – we’re busy. We don’t have a lot of time to stop and translate things ourselves. If the benefits of what I get out of a service are not immediately apparent, we’re going to move on to another service provider who does focus on those benefits.

But when you focus on the outcomes you’re providing instead of the how, you’ll find that you connect better and can charge more for the websites and marketing you’re creating for your customers.

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