Web Design vs Web Marketing – Growing Pains

Website Marketing

What Is Website Design?

First, let’s define what it’s not.

Web Design, by itself, is NOT web marketing. But properly implemented Web Marketing requires good Website Design.

Are you confused yet?

On this point, many people are – and understandably so. It took me a while to “grow” into it.

Bizeeo Marketing Agency provides Online Marketing and Web Design Services for small, local businesses.

The distinction between Web Design and Digital Marketing is VERY important. I was reminded of this a few years back after a meeting with a “former” customer.

Web Design – The “Old” Approach

Several years ago, around 2008, I provided my Website Design Services for a new restaurant.

The owner (let’s just call him Uncle Mick) was very satisfied with the final product, and once we wrapped up all of the details, we shook hands and parted ways.

So, when I contacted Uncle Mick about 3 years later and suggested we implement a Web Marketing Plan, he was a bit confused.

He remembered all of the time and effort we devoted to the development of his original website. What more could there possibly be to do?

After a brief discussion, he conceded that he needed more customers (who doesn’t?), and the only marketing he had done since we last met was print advertising. His website was virtually unchanged since it had been published, and served only as an online brochure.

This was certainly better than nothing, but there was so much more that could be done by advertising his services online.

But rather than delve into the benefits of a digital marketing, which I do in other articles, I want to share my personal evolution from Website Designer to Internet Marketing Specialist.

The Learning Curve

The year was 1997. I was employed with a large government agency.

It was there that I became involved with my first Web Design Project. This was a massive undertaking at the time, and we were under a lot of pressure to build a website that both our employees and the taxpayers would consider useful and informative.

We spent a considerable amount of time focusing on content, usability, readability, navigation, and aesthetics, much the same as any good website designer would today.

We had virtually no experience and not a lot of resources to draw on. We made a LOT of mistakes, but we persevered.

In retrospect, those were MUCH simpler times:

  • We only had to be concerned with a small range of screen sizes. Laptops and larger monitors were just beginning to enter the marketplace, but not in large enough numbers to garner our attention (perhaps we were a bit short-sighted).
  • Most everyone was using the same web browser, so browser compatibility issues were not yet a major consideration.
  • We only updated content when absolutely necessary, in part because it was not a quick or easy task back then, and the culture was such that frequent updates were viewed as frivolous.
  • Our exposure on the World Wide Web was confined to a single website, and we had complete control of the content.
  • Changes in design trends and web technologies were occurring at a much slower pace compared with today.
  • Search engines were not very sophisticated. We could employ a few tricks to help boost our search engine rankings without fear of being penalized.

Web Marketing Growing Pains

Now, fast forward several years to 2004.

I was now developing a few websites for my personal use.

There were at least two additional web browsers on the scene – a common problem was a website design would look perfect in one web browser, and completely broken in another.

Furthermore, monitors on both desktops and laptops were larger and providing better resolution.

All of this required more effort to ensure that websites looked and functioned properly on different devices, but these tasks were still considered website design issues.

By 2005, “web logs”, or blogs as they became known, took the Internet by storm! Suddenly anyone could publish articles to the Web, although their real value was not fully realized in a “marketing” sense.

By 2006, I was offering Web Design as a professional service to others.

SEO & More

The concept of optimizing a website for search engines, or Search Engine Optimization (SEO), was very much in its infancy – the term was rarely used and often misunderstood (it still is).

SEO was far from the science that it is today. It was considered more of an afterthought, and its importance was not yet fully appreciated, especially with small business owners.

SEO was a service you “kind of” provided but never considered charging a fee.

In 2007, Web-based, cloud technologies were quickly catching on, and the ability to share information and collaborate online was becoming a requirement rather than a curiosity.

By 2008, online business directories were beginning to show up all over the web, along with a totally confusing new phenomenon called “social networking“.

My customers were asking me to help create Facebook pages and integrate them with their website. They were also asking me about all of these business directories and how to get listed with them, or in some cases, how to be removed from them.

In 2009, there was another major web browser introduced. Everything was changing at an extremely rapid pace. I literally spent at least two hours a day studying online literature just to keep up! (still do, sometimes)

And near the end of 2010, right when I thought I had a handle on things, the “mobile revolution” kicked in.

Tablets and smartphones were showing up everywhere, and websites needed to look and perform well on those devices, too!


As I scrambled to understand and embrace all of these new technologies, I became aware of four irrefutable facts:

  1. I could no longer simply create websites for customers and leave the rest to chance.
  2. Customers wanted websites that produced measurable results.
  3. A strong online presence required a massive amount of maintenance — constantly publishing new content, monitoring the results and tweaking the process.
  4. If web marketing is to be implemented properly, it must be an ongoing task.

The light finally came on… “I was a Web Marketing Specialist!”

Better yet, I was a Marketing & Advertising Agency!

Yes, I still develop websites.

But my mission is to create an online presence for my customers, using all of the tools available, including a properly designed and optimized website.

Why is a “Marketing Mindset” Important?

I would be doing my customers an injustice if I did not provide a comprehensive approach to web marketing.

Creating an attractive website is a wasted effort if it cannot be found via the search engines.

Unfortunately, today there are many “web design” service providers that claim to have expertise in “Online Marketing” who cannot deliver. They use the two terms interchangeably as if they have the same meaning.

Before you hire a website design service provider, be sure to look at the big picture.

Make it perfectly clear that you desire a strong “web presence”, not just a pretty website.

Moving Forward

My “former” customer, Uncle Mick, is now my customer once again and has been since 2012.

He is fully committed to a web-first marketing strategy:

  • We optimized his website for mobile devices.
  • We optimized his website for the keyword search phrases that are relevant to his business, which has propelled his web presence to the top of the local rankings.
  • We regularly add content to his website or social media, which strengthens and maintains his ranking in the search engines.
  • We claimed his listings in the business directories to ensure they are accurate, consistent and comprehensive.
  • We encouraged customer reviews, propelling him to the top of review sites like TripAdvisor.
  • We monitored and measured everything we did to discover what was working, and learn how to improve upon what wasn’t.
  • and more…

Uncle Mick eventually dropped all of his other forms of advertising. Read what he had to say about Bizeeo in a recent online review.

Stay tuned… and contact Bizeeo for a free quote and consultation.

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” ~ John Maxwell