Anyone in a creative field knows that people have a lot of misconceptions about what it is that we do. For some reason, whether you craft reclaimed wood products, make beautiful jewelry or web design, people often greet you with the response “how hard can it be?” Then there’s my personal favorite “I can get my (insert child, grandchild, etc. name here) to do it for me.”
Although it may be true that anyone can learn how to be a master with power tools or design a beautiful website, there is so much more to it. So before you decide to create your first website or hire a web designer, you need to understand these common web design misconceptions.
1. It’s easy to make a website.
Yes, there are a ton of companies that provide users with “drag-and-drop” website options. They are easy to use, cheap, and… well, you get what you pay for. Your website will look just like everyone else’s. They are great for setting up a personal portfolio or a basic brochure site, something that you’re not planning on getting a lot of traffic from. But, if the purpose of your website is to help your business, as it should be, then you’re just wasting your time.
Professional web designers understand how to make your site optimized for search engines, site security, HTML/CSS best practices and user experience flow, just to name a few.
2. Design first. Add content later.
CONTENT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR WEBSITE. (Yes, I do think all caps is necessary.) You need to understand what your website is going to be about before you can create one. There is no other way of doing this other than by creating content.
Use your company’s buyer personas to decide who your main audience should be and create content around that. But remember, quality over quantity is key. You don’t need 10 pages that are packed full of information. Focus on delivering your user exactly what they need to understand your business, and nothing else.
Side note: It is never okay to plagiarize or use someone else’s content. Don’t hunt for a photo off of Google or steal your competitor’s language just because it works.
3. I can use Google for images for my website.
Please don’t. For starters, it’s lazy and doesn’t add anything to your brand image and perception. More importantly, it’s illegal.
There are copyright laws to consider. The best case scenario is receiving a cease and desist letter warning you to stop using the author’s work. But that’s embarrassing and means you have to scramble to figure out what to put in its place. And what you really don’t want is to pay a hefty fine for using a copyrighted image. Instead, just fork over either a little bit of money for stock photos or truly invest in your brand and website, and hire a professional photographer.
4. My website is done, so the job is done.
A website is never finished. The web is always changing. Websites need to be continually updated – even if just for security purposes – to stay with or ahead of best practices, emerging trends, and technology in general.
Failing to keep your website up to date is a big gamble. One that may not be an issue right away, but a gamble that will inevitably cause you a major headache. In other words, it’s not a matter of if a website will have issues, it’s when.
5. My site is done, here comes the wave of visitors!
“If you build it, they will come.”
Sorry, that just doesn’t apply to your website. It’s nice to think so but just because you launched a new site doesn’t mean is going to “go viral”.
For starters, how would people know that it’s even been launched? More importantly, your website isn’t the end all of your marketing efforts – or at least it shouldn’t be. No, your website is the hub of your digital marketing.
Your website – and therefore your business – needs to be promoted. Whether that’s the job of your web agency depends on the agency (some do marketing, some don’t). Either way, growing your business through your website requires a team effort and a combination of good marketing and website optimization. Don’t just assume that your website will give an immediate payoff or ROI – it requires a bit more effort than that.
7. Any change I want on my website should be free!
Imagine buying a car. It comes with a warranty in which the manufacturer or dealer cover quite a bit for a limited time. Now imagine that after the warranty was up, you demanded that your oil changes, tire rotation, and x-thousand mile service be free.
You’d probably be laughed at. So why expect that from a web design studio?
Many design studios will give you a warranty or support period that starts after the site launches and ends after a certain amount of time. During this time if any issues come up, they’ll get fixed at no additional cost. Some terms may apply, but generally speaking, it’s common practice for this grace period to be included in the contract.