Every business needs a website.
Are you absolutely sure you need a website?
Your business may make a ton of sales through direct customers — and a website may add little or nothing to that. For some businesses, a Facebook page or shop is enough of a presence.
Many businesses create a website because they think they should have one — and often spend thousands of dollars. They never recoup that money because the website doesn’t actually bring them more customers.
A low-quality website is not ‘better than nothing.’ But a good website can be a great asset — if you invest decent time and money into making it awesome. If it’s not part of an overall marketing strategy then you probably shouldn’t build it.
Focus on the need. Get clear on the ‘who?’, ‘what?’ and ‘why?’.
“Websites are famous for being your storefront in the digital age.
Every expert will tell you you must have a website to capture leads. And that’s true…if you’re building an e-commerce or online business.
For other types of service based business, having a website can be a distraction from the real work you need to be doing: getting clients.”
If you build it they will come.
If only this was true!
Too many people create their website and assume people will stumble across it, because why wouldn’t they? It’s so beautiful. But the web is a big haystack, and your needle just one among millions. How is anyone going to find it? Building a website won’t automatically revolutionize your business – unless you actually promote it!
So how do you plan to promote your website? Social media? SEO? Google? Email? A billboard in Times Square? Word of mouth?
Geek up on digital marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO). Carefully chosen keywords alone won’t guarantee you Google ranking — there are dozens of indicators that search engines use to rank your page. One of the biggies is quality content and links from authority websites. What’s your content plan?
Thinking website? Think website promotion plan first.
“Some people think that simply having a website will bring them untold riches. Another, related myth is ‘publish great content and Google will reward you for it’.
While well-written, in-depth, well-researched content is a must, you have to promote it—and to the ‘right audience’.
Strategically promote your content using social media, email, outreach, video, and any other methods available to you, including paid ads.”
Someone else can create your website content.
Leave the hard stuff to the expert right?
Wrong. When it comes to your business, you are the expert.
Content is your website. A pretty shop front only gets people in the door — it’s what inside that counts. Website content needs passion. It needs to communicate the why, who and how with authority and authenticity. It needs to reflect you and your business values and vision. And that goes for words, images and other media.
If you hire a pro, remember they’re not mind readers. They need to really get you, and get what you’re creating. Give them raw content to hone and polish, not a blank canvas.
“If you have a web site, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means that we are all relying on our words to carry our marketing messages.
Quality content means content that is packed with clear utility and is brimming with inspiration, and it has relentless empathy for the audience.”
Your website has a finish line.
Your website may have a launch date, but this doesn’t mean it’s ever finished. In fact, it never will be!
A website is never a ‘set-and-forget’. Like any relationship, it’s a work in progress. There are constant updates, revisions, improvements, and creative tweaking.
Over time, most businesses change (or grow) their offering. How will your website change to feature new products and services? Even if these remain constant, you’ll want to revise your copy to make sure it lands. Gather new testimonials and images. Respond to feedback. Develop new case studies. And the list goes on.
Remember: if you forget your website, everyone else will too.
“It will never be perfect. It will never be finished. Websites are designed to adapt and change over time.
So don’t worry about making everything just right before you launch. Just make it live and keep working on it.
The best day to launch a new website is the first day it’s better than the old website!”
Your website must be perfect before launch.
Do you want a real live website — or a dusty manuscript in the bottom drawer? Your website is never going to be a book, so you don’t need a polished manuscript before publishing. You just need a story. And it can even be a draft.
In Lean Startup business terms a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ or MVP has the bare minimum features for launch. MVPs are cheaper to create, net early sales, and offer feedback from your audience. If it doesn’t fly, you haven’t lost so much. From your MVP you measure, learn and update.
Same goes for a ‘Minimum Lovable Website’. It has all the basics to start building an audience. 🍾 Celebrate 🥂 this step, gather feedback, and plan improvements to make it even more lovable. Let it grow organically, and escape the perfectionism trap.
And whatever you do, don’t forget to hit ‘Publish’.
“Perfection is illusory in the first place, ask any developer, marketer or digital person worth listening to.
Better to suspend the fear, get the project going – and keep the feedback coming.
Fix it fast, but don’t feel the need to perfect it now.”
You can develop your website content when the design is done.
Don’t focus on a fancy design, theme or platform before first considering your website content. That’s like designing a house without knowing what you’ll do in each room!
You don’t create your website and then ‘squeeze’ in the content. Content is your website — and not just the words. Content includes images, videos, podcasts and other media. You’ve got a lot of options, so think about how best you can tell your story.
Content is the way you communicate and connect. It’s often the first and last impression you make on potential customers. It should be engaging — inspiring, even!— and always targeted to their needs.
First write, imagine, experiment, draw and sketch your content. Then let design decisions flow from this.
“Do a content audit before you get too far down the line with your project.
Working back from specific business goals, take the time (this can take days or even months but is worth the effort) getting a feel for the online conversations about your industry.
Spot trends that you should be a part of. Look for gaps that only your brand’s unique expertise can fill.
Your website should be all about you and your business.
Ever noticed how genuinely confident people don’t need to spruik themselves? Your website should be the same.
The first thing your website visitors need to know is that you understand their problems, care about them, and can actually help. Then they need to be able to imagine the benefits they’ll enjoy once their problems are solved.
Of course at some point a website visitor may want to hear your backstory, or read the fine print on your products and services. But never forget — they came to your website to solve their own problems, not to understand every nuance of your life story.
“Your customers don’t care to learn about you until they feel that you understand their problem and can offer help. Your digital experience should be designed to first communicate your deep understanding of your target audience. Everything from images to headlines to navigation labels should be carefully selected to achieve maximum resonance.
Once you’ve established trust, then you can pitch your product or service without the friction of skepticism.”
People read web pages.
People read books but scan web pages.
People rarely read web pages. Instead they scan, picking out individual words and sentences. Forget big slabs of text — think ‘byte sized chunks’. Create defined sections and columns, sub-headings and bulleted lists.
If the web is an information superhighway, your website is a billboard and needs to make an impact. Would you fill a billboard with a 1,000 word essay? First impressions are all about the first glance. Embrace white space. Hone your messaging. Structure your pages around clear headings.
Save the long-form content for blog posts. See more information about scannability from UX Planet.
“One of the most important things you can do is to put as much thought into your sub-headings as your page title.
When someone is scanning your content (which they always do) you need to entice them to stop.
You need compelling sub-headings that attract their attention and get them to stop scrolling!”
Design is about looking good.
Many people think design is about making their website beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with beautiful — but good design is about more than pretty colors and logos. Good website design is about creating a website experience that is functional, enjoyable and meaningful. It’s about planning the smoothest way to introduce your offerings to visitors.
Is your website easy to navigate? Easy to follow? Simple and logical? Easy to scan? Approaching design this way lets form follow function, and ensures your website visitors have a great experience.
Thinking design? Think functionality and usability first.
“Have you ever bought a pair of pants that looked awesome but was super uncomfortable to wear?
Your website is just like that.
It shouldn’t be ugly, of course. But its final goal is not to look great but to convert your prospects, which can only happen if they can easily complete a task they came to your website to accomplish.”
More visits equals more business.
The more the merrier, right? Not necessarily. Website success is defined by how people engage with your website — not the raw numbers walking in the door.
How long are people staying on your website? If you can hold someone’s interest for 30 seconds, that’s a good start. If your visitors aren’t sticking around that long, it might be because they’re not actually interested in your offering.
Remember, quantity does not equal quality. How are you making sure you reach the right audience? And then, how is your website helping to convert this audience visitors into engaged users, customers and/or fans?
Most of us want to be popular, but your website doesn’t have to rule the oceans. It just needs to be a big fish in your particular pond.
You don’t need more people, you need the right people.
Wrong people are a waste of your advertising budget, and they skew your website metrics. Only focus on the ideal customers – with your marketing AND your website copy. Your best-fit customers “get” your product, buy fast and don’t haggle prices.
Feedback from best-fit customers helps you improve the site and increase your conversion rate. Feedback from everyone else is just noise and distraction. “
White space is wasted space.
Forget building a website that is cluttered with dense text and calls to action (Click here! Go there!). Think Google homepage. Think Apple. The white space is as crucial as the logo itself.
White space is the gap between and around text, images, and other content (not necessarily white of course). White space directs the gaze where to look, and in what order. It’s the subtle traffic controller, keeping the pathways clear and easy to follow. White space is powerful precisely because of its absence.
Think slick magazine, not infomercial. Think movement. White space weaves the web page elements together. Think Zen.
“White space might be the single most important element when it comes to getting users to look at a design.
Space can help draw the eye in, create an area of focus and establish the right mood for a design.
Great use of white space can help create a design that’s engaging, friendly and highly usable.”
Pop-ups and opt-ins don’t work.
Yes, pop-ups can be annoying. But the evidence suggests they definitely work.
A ‘yes’ click is a connection made – so much better than an invisible, one-time guest. Nikki McGonigal, a craft blogger, used pop-ups to drive a 1,375 per cent increase in subscribers over just 8 months. And Darren Rowse from ProBlogger used pop-ups to attract 400 new email subscribers per day.
If you hate the idea of a pop-up, there are other options. You could use slide-ins, scroll-downs or in content opt-ins (like the one below) instead. And if you really don’t want to bother your website visitors during their visit, at least consider an exit pop-up that offers a great educational resource.
As long as you’re giving away something that helps your visitors, they’ll quickly forgive you for being a bit over-eager!
“Although pop-ups were the darling of web design and lead generation techniques only a year ago, they’ve quickly fallen out of favor. And it’s because we bombard users with the same elements over and over again (like enticing offer pop-ups) that they develop a sort of “blindness” to them.
That said, pop-out elements still work in terms of grabbing visitors’ attention and motivating them to convert at higher rates than they would left to their own devices. However, traditional modal pop-ups aren’t the way to do it anymore. Sticky banners at the top and bottom of sites are best (especially in this mobile-first world). And big eye-catching callouts that have directly relevant offers to the content on the page or post are a good idea, too.”
“Wield the power of the pop up
form to complement the user experience, rather than hinder it.
The best pop up forms are successful because they respect the very people for which they’re intended. In other words, the pop up form should be designed to be as unobtrusive to your visitors as possible.
When you’re in the mindset of further engaging your audience, there’s a greater chance visitors will view the form as helpful instead of disruptive.”
A great website can be done on the cheap.
A website is rarely an add-on. It’s most likely the centre of your marketing world. It needs resources and a realistic budget. Energy in equals energy out. Tenfold.
Your website is like a house build, with you as the site manager. Unless you’re skilled in copywriting, research, design, branding, online marketing and SEO then you’ll need a team. In most cases, investing in solid foundations and professional help will earn you money in the long run. It will also save you time.
Like a house, a website requires ongoing maintenance. Reviewing and updating of content, adding new features and troubleshooting all takes time and money. Are you going to do it yourself, or do you need to budget for this?
Check out this handy article to help you figure out how much your website build may cost.
“It’s not so cut and dried in the service based space to what cost of website is necessary.
In my experience what has to cost money is brand clarity, functionality, digital assets and linked software… its the whole digital presence and digital marketing knowhow that costs more than a functional, lovely website.
These all need to be factored in to the web-making process. Who you work with on understanding how your website can work for you makes a big difference”
Success happens overnight.
The world isn’t sitting around waiting for the launch of your website. Believe it or not, it’s only the centre of the universe for you and your team! Remember that ‘overnight successes’ — like Twitter, the iPod, Gmail and Amazon — are actually years in the making. Hit mobile game Angry Birds was Rovio’s 51st game attempt. It saved them from bankruptcy.
Mega-successful web entrepreneur Neil Patel says content marketing (aka your website) takes 2 years before gaining traction. Ranking well on Google particularly takes time. Pace yourself. You’re in it for the long run. Tend your website like a garden. Give it attention, time, inspiration, and perspiration. It will bear fruit.
“The fact is that it takes many years to be an overnight success even for internet entrepreneurs. Years of hard work, endurance, learning, experimenting, and many failures along the way.”
So there’s our top 14 Website Myths. We hope they help keep your feet on the ground for a smooth website journey.
If you do want to drill deeper — and focus on the exact steps needed to navigate a website project — check out our Website Success Checklist blog post.
In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts on these Website Myths. Have you seen any of these play out in your own work? Is there a big one we might have missed? Let us know in the comments below.