Building a Website
13 min read
Updated: May 14, 2020

What, Exactly, Is a High-Performance Website?

Chances are you're reading this post because you probably have an outdated website or you're looking to start a new business and need to build a new website. Whatever the case, you're in the right place because here you will find some very fundamental information that you will need in order to assure that your future website is a success.

Here’s a little-known fact: according to HubSpot, the leading authority on all things digital marketing, 72% of new websites fail from the get-go. 

Now imagine you spend months working with a web design and development company to produce your new website. Everyone in your team is feeling euphoric because this website looks so much better than the old one. Everyone has high hopes that this top-notch looking website is going to impress prospects and drive a lot of new business through the door. 

But time plods on and the euphoria wanes, because you notice that this great-looking new website is performing about the same as the old version. 

Here’s what I mean by that. 

It doesn’t generate any meaningful results. There is no increase in traffic, leads, or sales. That’s absolutely devastating for a business. And it’s a travesty because a professional website costs $15,000-$25,000 and takes three to four months to build.

Imagine investing that time, energy and money only to get nothing in return. It’s a costly mistake and it’s horrible. 

So what’s the bottom line? What makes some websites perform better than the rest? Why do most websites fail? What is a high-performance website and how is it different from a typical website? 

Let’s get started.

Why do most websites fail from the get-go?

Websites from Comrade web development company in Chicago

The reason why most websites fail from the start lies in how most of us go about hiring a web design or marketing agency to build a new website. 

Here’s what a typical process looks like. See if you recognize the following scenario: 

You (the business owner, marketing manager or someone else assigned to the task), research and compile a list of marketing or web development agencies with a view to hiring the right one.  

After exhaustively reviewing 20-40 marketing firms’ websites, you shortlist the ones you like visually. You research each agency’s services list and make sure it actually produces websites, particularly the kind you want.

Then you refine a bit further and look at the firm’s portfolio to assess the quality of its website work. If the websites the firm designed are actually nice and match your tastes or business needs, you shortlist those.  

Using this process, you narrow it down to a shortlist of, say, three to seven web design and marketing firms (in some rare cases maybe even 10). You reach out to each of these companies either by telephone or via their “Contact Us” form to ask the following two questions: 

  1. How much does it cost to build?
  2. How long will it take to build?

The reason why those questions are so natural is because if it costs more than you can afford, it’s a nonstarter. If you can’t afford to wait for very long, and the agency is quoting a lengthy turnaround time, then it’s also a no-go. 

After narrowing it down based on time and cost, you find one web design firm you really like and then typically strike a deal. But there is a huge gap in this process. 

A critical question you did not answer is: “What are the tangible and measurable objectives for this new website?” 

In order for a website to be a true high-performance tool it needs to deliver meaningful and measurable results. When looking for an agency to design our websites, most of us, however, don’t realize this is the entire purpose of a website. 

If you were lucky enough to figure this out before the website is built, you can tell the agency what your key objectives are. The issue at this point, however, is that just telling the agency your key goals is not enough. You must also demand to see the website’s plan and how it will be built to achieve the very goals you defined. 

If the web design firm or market agency does not provide a blueprint of how your website will achieve your business goals, the website will fail. Because frankly, it was just designed to be a really nice-looking digital brochure. But it will not deliver tangible (lead/income-generating) and measurable results.

How are high-performance websites different?

Website cost - Web development company

For starters, the primary differentiator is that a high-performance website, unlike the vast majority of other websites, will ultimately cost you nothing. What I mean is that a high-performance website will deliver results that substantially outpace what it costs to build and maintain.

Let’s say you invest $15,000 into building a website and it delivers $1 million dollars in additional revenue. Well, that website became absolutely free. Yet most websites underperform, thus come with a huge price tag, far greater than the cost to build them. What makes underperforming websites so costly is not just the wasted money on web design, but on the many lost business opportunities incurred.

The bottom line: 72% of websites underperform and incur a huge opportunity cost. High-performance websites outperform and continually return on your investment. 

What does a high-performance website do better to deliver that ROI?

  1. It attracts a greater number of visitors (prospects)
  2. It converts those visitors into actionable leads, or in the case of an e-commerce website, into actual sales

What makes a high-performance website perform, well, better?

First, it gives visitors what they want. There’s a strategy built into the website to address any questions a prospect may have prior to taking the next step with your business (or, in the case of e-commerce sites, be converted into a sale).  

So high-performance websites provide information a visitor needs to take that next step. This information could include: 

  • Product or service reviews
  • Explanation of why they should choose your company over a competitor
  • Your unique value proposition
  • The right offer in the right place for every stage of the buying journey (and there is a separate video I recorded that addresses this).

It supports the buying process

Prospects go through what is called a buying process. The buying process could take hours, days, weeks, months, or sometimes years, depending on your industry and how complex your product or services are. 

A high-performance website would regularly feature some sort of offer at every stage of the buying journey, thus capturing a prospect’s attention at every stage of his/her journey. Then, the site will intelligently and automatically follow up with that prospect until he/she is ready to engage in a conversation.

Sometimes, a prospect is ready to start the conversation quickly, by clicking on the “Contact Us” tab and filling out the form or by picking up the phone and calling. Your web development agency should build you such a website that makes the buying process easier and attractive for your prospects.

For eCommerce stores, putting a product into a cart and making an online payment is of great importance. Check the list of eCommerce Development Agencies in California that may help you build a perfect online store website.

Another aspect of a high-performance website is that it delivers a great user experience.

A website with great user experience

A great user experience really consists of three simple but powerful website components: 

  • It looks competitive-grade (meaning it looks at least as good, and hopefully better, than your direct competitors’ websites).
  • It is fast (like, ridiculously fast) on both mobile and desktop devices. The faster the website, the higher the ranking in Google.
  • Clarity of interface and clarity of copy. Users must be able to intuitively follow the natural progression of your webpages and take your lead (regardless which stage they’re at in the buyer’s journey). All written content (copy) and video content must be informative, engaging and easy to consume.

Each of these components lends to a great user experience and great user experiences engender trust in your business. This in turn leads prospects to start a business conversation or, in the case of e-commerce websites, make a transaction.

Remember: high-performance websites are designed to foster a high-quality user experience and is search engine optimized. This in turn:

  • Generates more relevant traffic
  • Increases leads and the rate of conversions
  • Supports your sales team and/or process

So, my request to you is a simple one: if you need a web development company to build a website for your business, reach out to us either by clicking the Contact Us form or calling us on the phone to talk about your future website.

In this 15 to 30 minute session, we will: 

  • Help you zero-in to see the volume of online search traffic and how much demand there is for your product or service
  • Help you define a plan on how to get from point A (where you are today) to point B (where you want to be) in accomplishing your business objectives
  • Provide a quote on cost and time needed to develop your future website

Our customized market analysis and website plan for your business will be done absolutely free of charge.

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About the Author
Sasha Berson
Sasha serves as Managing Partner and VP of Client Solutions for Comrade Digital Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing agency dedicated to solving client’s most pressing digital challenges.
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