When building your company’s web site, it’s tempting to pursue the most flashy graphics you can for the budget. Graphic designers are brilliant at coming up with lots of design options, each one better than the last, that make you feel important, like your web site will be great because it looks great.

And I’m not slamming designers at all–it’s their job to create beautiful graphics that communicate a message effectively. And provided they have the right information and direction, they do it well. The problem arises when the graphics come first and the direction and message come later.

If you haven’t asked any of these questions before you start working with your brilliant designer, you may be wasting time and money:

  • Who is my audience? What do they like, where do they hang out, what do they value?
  • What is my offering? What do I best provide to a potential customer? What am I most proud to present to a prospect?
  • How do my prospects want to be communicated with? Am I making it easy for them to find me, ask me questions and determine if I am a good match for their needs?
  • Have I presented myself in a way that allows different types of communicators to equally “get” me?
  • Will people who want to use a contact form, people who scan headlines, people who read bullets and people who value social network capital have an equally easy time connecting with me?

There are many other questions that must be addressed in order to effectively brand your business. These are just some of the basics. If you haven’t answered any of these, and are starting the graphic design process, you may be building a fancy sign for an empty store.

The best thing to do may be to stop designing and start working on the basic building blocks of information that will make up your web site offering. After all, no matter how pretty your site is, if you can’t communicate with your potential customers effectively, you probably won’t get much new business from it.