Web design business: specializing vs being generic?


We are about to renew our HOME PAGE, we sell websites, we are web designers.

From your experience,what do you suggest to enphasize most on our HOME PAGE, we are struggling to decide whether to:

  1. enphasize more a specializied solution approach like: "we do websites for hotels", "we do websites for accounting firms", "e-commerce websites for shops who sell gold coins", etc. (obviously we did more websites in these fields: accounting firms, hotels, etc.)
  2. or to enphasize more a generic solution approach like: "simple basic website 2/3 pages", "professional company websites", "e-commerce websites", "search engine optimization", etc.

I know you are saying why not use both approch, the reason is we want to keep HOME PAGE SIMPLE, we know if we give to final user too many messages, he won't catch any of them, we are thinking to show in HOME PAGE a maximum of 6 solutions in 6 rectangles (that probably might be really too many), but what approach to use, specialization or generic??? What do you suggest?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Website Design

asked Apr 26 '10 at 02:12
Marco Demaio
175 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

6 Answers


I faced this same dilemma when I was running a consulting business years ago. I offered workshops in my area of expertise that I would create to customer's requirements.

Number of sales I got with this approach: ZERO

As soon as I created some specific workshops that I thought customers needed, I started getting sales and it turned into a nice little business.

My take away was that people are too lazy to work out what they want. And they also don't want something generic - they want something for THEM. So if they are an accounting firm, they want to know that you understand their industry and can make them a relevant website.

Now you and I know that your skills apply to all sorts of businesses. But my bet is that your customers want to feel that you are just the right service for them and their industry.

I would keep your offering simple and understandable and test offering a specialised service. This will also give you a competitive advantage against all the other web design firms that are offering generic services. And it will allow you to use networks within industries to promote your business.

But the key is testing. TEST TEST TEST!

Good luck

answered Apr 26 '10 at 21:23
Susan Jones
4,128 points
  • Your clever suggestion is basically the opposite of what others are suggesting, but I agree with your bet "customers want to feel that we are just the right service for them". – Marco Demaio 14 years ago


I'm fairly surprised by the early answers to this question.

Of course, attaching onto a vertical is a big strategic decision that is about more than your website, but in the crowded web design business, my first inclination would definetly be to look at verticals and niches rather than go generic.

Any one of the industries quoted are more than big enough, and attaching yourself to one and learning about their specific problems and opportunities would both seperate you from and distinguish you from thousands of your competitors.

answered Apr 28 '10 at 00:44
Benjamin Wootton
1,667 points
  • +1 to think about. – Marco Demaio 14 years ago


My gut feeling would be to not spend time on verticals (hotels, accounting firms) etc. Positioning yourself against a specific business area is valuable if you have special domain knowledge; but website design is pretty 'generic'.

I would go with your "solution approach", but re-phrased to address customer benefits. So SEO is "attract more visitors to your site", Wordpress themes are "one design for blog and company website" etc. (I hope you can think of better customer benefits than I.)

Last but not least, do some A/B testing, and/or ask your customers what attracts them.

answered Apr 26 '10 at 02:41
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points
  • What do you mean by "special domain knowledge"? – Marco Demaio 14 years ago
  • Having special knowledge, skills, know-how or processes that are required for serving a specific area of business -- for example, being PCI DSS certified for the payment processing industry. And my point is that website design is generally not so industry-specific, so you're not gaining a competitive advantage by knowing the "hotels" or "accounting" industries well. You might get sales leads from referrals, but that's something else. – Jesper Mortensen 14 years ago


IF you truly own a vertical, then target them. I worked for a company that only made websites for hotels. So that's what their homepage said.

If you don't own a vertical, I think there's a happy middle ground. Don't get specific about your target market. Get specific about what you excel at. I was in the same boat, but my specialty is web apps. It's both what my experience emphasizes, and what I love most to do. By focusing my website on that, while hinting that I do a bit of everything, I've gotten a lot more business. It also helped me find my market (people who want SAAS rather than a webiste) and market better.

Another idea is to create landing pages for verticals. Good SEO will get people to those pages.

answered Apr 27 '10 at 22:54
Corey Maass
201 points
  • +1 intersting clever idea the lending pages. – Marco Demaio 14 years ago



Your general skills will be applied differently in different domains. And your particular prospective customers want an offering relevant to them. Your job is to be relevant to them at their point of need. (And happily, that helps when it comes to search engine optimization!)

A balancing act is then how to present multiple sector expertises. Will prospective customers be engaged or deterred when they see that you offer sites for hotels, accountants and engineering parts distributors?

This question is best answered by a combination of common sense and split testing. And if you do it well, you are likely to find over time that you present multiple web front ends to the world, each presenting one or a handful of specializations.

answered Jan 25 '11 at 19:31
Jeremy Parsons
5,197 points


I would go with the generic solution approach. I think you will end up attracting more clients this way because every business, regardless of whether they are an accounting firm, a hotel, or a consulting firm, want a professional company website and want search engine optimization. That's something all businesses can relate to.

If you go with the specializied solution approach, you run the risk of mainly attracting accounting firms and hotels. That's because subconsciously people may think that your services are geared towards those indistries, when in reality your services are generic...meaning anyone in need of a website can use your services. This approach may result in unnecessarily pushing away potential clients.

answered Apr 26 '10 at 03:52
Zuly Gonzalez
9,194 points

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