Websites are a common topic on forums and groups I’m in. Questions about which platform and what theme and what to focus on. And each of these questions produces hundreds of comments from all sorts of people. I get it! It’s great to ask a question from peers that you trust. But in all those comments, there can be some incredibly bad advice. Advice that makes me cringe and try to figure out how to answer the question and try to direct the person to a better answer while not losing my cool. Today, I want to present the worst website advice I’ve ever heard.
What is the Worst Website Advice I've Heard?
You Don’t Need a Website
This one gets used a lot. Within a certain context, it may even be true. But as blanket advice for every business owner and entrepreneur, it’s dead wrong. For every person saying to just use a Facebook page or LinkedIn profile as your main “website”, they miss that all important rule – don’t build your house on another man’s land. Don’t put your content on someone else’s platform. Facebook is great and it’s stable, but what if they change the rules? What if LinkedIn closes down?
On top of this, using these platforms limits just how much you can scale. If you are just starting out, sure having someone just message you and then send them an invoice works. But when you’re ready to automate, it’s not going to be possible. You’ll either have to move to a website, or to another platform to try and make it work
Not to mention that a website helps build trust! Most visitors want to see your website before they buy. Let me give you an example: you want to purchase a high-end Tiffany lamp. Normally, you would be expected to visit an official Tiffany store, like the one on Fifth Ave in New York. How much would you trust a lamp you saw in Wal-mart that is advertised as being a Tiffany? Probably zilch on that one. Wal-mart is like Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. You can see a lot of different items in one place. But you probably wouldn’t trust exclusive or high-end items in a Wal-mart. The same goes for your website. 80% of people will research a business online before making a purchase.
You Don’t Need to Plan Consistent Branding
This one comes in a variety of versions, but the idea is to just put yourself out there first and worry about branding later. The problem with this comes 4 or 6 months down the road when you do start forming a brand and realize most of what you have will need to be thrown out the window and redone from scratch. If this doesn’t convince you to at least have a basic branding plan before starting, consider that businesses with a consistent brand on average have 23% increased revenue.
I’m not saying you need to have every single bit of your brand fully fleshed out here. But before you launch, plan out:
- Your logo – whether it’s your name, a simple icon, or something, have a recognizable image at all sizes.
- 4 – 5 colors – if you’re having trouble getting a palette together, you can use Coolers to generate palettes or check out my Color Palettes and Inspiration board
- Pick out a font or two you like, that is readable, and is not Comic Sans
- 2-3 images that really speak to how your business looks and feels.
To get a sneak peek at my first ever attempt at branding, click here. You’ll see my logo, my colors (though they have gotten brighter since then), my fonts, and images that spoke to my idea of space, freedom, and rock ‘n roll that would define my brand. It isn’t comprehensive but it’s helped me stay on track and keep things consistent. Because nothing is as tough on the eyes as a website whose every page looks like it’s for a different business or brand. Repeat after me: Consistent branding is key.
Wing it on your own
I want to start off by stating, I am not saying that every DIY website is horrible. There are some fantastic sites from some amazing business owners that could rival top corporate conglomerates. There are some of you with a real eye for design.
But let’s be really, really honest for a second. While a website can look really good, that doesn’t mean it will help your business move forward. There are a lot of elements to a good website, from SEO to user experience to mobile responsiveness. Maybe you really like small text, but you don’t realize that will hurt you with mobile responsiveness. You’ve put a lot of time into the images on your site but they cause your website to load slowly and lose visitors.
So many times, I see people say to just do it yourself because it’s cheap. They’ll say to use something like Wix because it’s free. And the entire basis of the advice is to build your website as cheaply as possible. There is a place for saving money or finding good value in a budget you can afford. Don’t sacrifice value for the cheapest price.
Even if you want to put in time on your website yourself, getting a professional audit and consultation can really help. You’ll get an idea of all the blind spots that are affecting your website and it’s effectiveness. And that can help you make decisions on changes to make and whether to get professional help. And while an audit usually costs money, it can let you DIY your website while getting the guidance of a professional.