6 Common Web Design Misconceptions
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 create websites, 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. Once the website is live, the project is complete.
Any good designer that cares about their client knows and expects the site to never be complete. Depending on the size of your website, you can most likely expect to spend at least three hours or more every week, depending on experience level, performing updates and fixing bugs (because you can never avoid them).
In addition, there are many other factors that will prompt the need to spend more time on your site. This includes company growth, user feedback and changing design trends.
4. I only need to build one website.
I hate to break it to you, but the days of creating just one version of your website are long, long gone. Not only do you need to make sure that your site will perform well on different search engines, but you also need to design for every different viewport. This means having a desktop, tablet and mobile version of your site.
However, since not all products are created equally, this also means that you can’t just create a mobile site that looks good on a vertical 640px iPhone. It also needs to look good horizontal and on different sized phones. In the end, you could easily end up with ten different versions. Don’t even get me started on designing for wearables such as the Apple Watch.
You can learn mobile design best practices by reading our blog, 22 Tips for Creating an Unforgettable Mobile Site.
5. Once launched, my website will instantly go viral.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. And honestly, this isn’t even something that a lot web designers do because it’s an entirely different game. It takes a ton of time and energy to get your site out there and noticed. Making updates and changes will help, but you’re better off hiring an agency who specializes in helping businesses grow and promoting websites to make sure that you’re doing it right and not wasting resources.
6. All important information should be above the fold.
This may have been a good rule five years ago, but now, I can’t really think of anyone who does this other than newspapers. Users are used to scrolling through a page to find what they’re looking for. When trying to decide what content should be above the fold, our rule is to keep it simple, showcase your company’s “good side” with a great photo, and add prominent calls-to-action to help guide your users to where you want them to go.
At the end of the day, creatives might always be forced to defend the value of what they do. Nonetheless, the best advice I can give you when planning a redesign of your site, is to always do what’s best for your business.