With over 12 years of experience, 300+ websites and lots of clients, I have heard a few things over the years and I got me some opinions.
These are some of my favorites:
Skimming vs Reading
You might have heard that people don’t read web pages, they scan them. That might be true at first. A person is going to quickly scan a page to see if it has the information they are looking for. If it does, they ARE going to read it. So it better be good, or they won’t become your customer. To increase readability, read this post: Elements of a Great Web Page
People don’t scroll.
Yes, they do. Everybody does, if they live on Planet Earth, even if they aren’t aware of it. Many of my clients have over 50% mobile traffic. The people who are viewing your website on a smart phone or pad are definitely scrolling. “Above-the-fold” content is an obsolete concept.
Why aren’t I on page 1 of Google?
Getting to page 1 in Google for organic search takes research, planning, strategy, time, perseverance, and hard work. How fast your site can get to page 1 of Google depends on the competitive landscape for each and every keyword phrase. Some phrases are easy. Some keyword phrases are extremely difficult. Some markets are saturated. Some keyword phrases have low traffic but high conversion rates, some have high traffic but low conversions. Longer keyword phrases are easier to rank than shorter ones. Local phrases are easier than global phrases. Some keyword phrases aren’t typed in at all (except by you). In a nut shell, it’s complicated. Read about SEO here.
If I build it, they will come.
That might have worked… about 15-20 years ago. Today, you must plan getting the exposure your website needs to be successful. Determine where your people are. Facebook? Linked In? Google? Make sure you have an internet marketing plan in place for each strategy to get people to your website.
I want a “Minimal” site.
I like the minimal style. Nice and clean. Very simple… However, they don’t show up in the search engines very well because there is usually not enough content on them. You will have to use another strategy for traffic. Also, are your customers learning enough about your products and services from your website to buy or hire you?
If your preferred color scheme is the rainbow, we’re gonna have to talk. Rainbows are hard! (I can probably make it work if I had to, though.)
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Just because you can animate something, doesn’t mean you should. Just because it looks cool, doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for your web page. Just because you have 1000 photos, doesn’t mean you should use all 1000 photos. Use your best stuff to get your message across. Some new website features are fads that get “tired” or overused and begin to annoy people. Don’t complicate things. Keep it simple and elegant. Your customers will appreciate it.
Building a website is easy.
Building a lame website might be easy. Publishing a very well-thought-out, sophisticated, elegant, effective website takes research, time, experience, and money.
Web Designers vs Other Artists
Architects, interior designers, graphic designers, artists, photographers, and illustrators are not website designers. They will probably have some high-quality imagery for their website, but designing a website is different that designing a house, magazine ad, book cover, etc…
Layouts, use of color, negative space, the flow of information – they are all used differently on web pages. Web designers have skill-sets that are not the same as other artists’ skill-sets.
I would not use my internet publishing design capabilities to tell my architect how to design my house.
Getting other peoples’ opinions…
This can open up a can of worms. Don’t just ask anybody for their opinion. Don’t ask your kids, unless your website is for kids. Don’t ask your grandma, unless your website is for senior citizens. Ask people who use the web frequently. Ask people who may be your client. Watch their engagement. Look for confusion and expressions as they browse your site. Do they say “eh” or “hmm”? Do they understand your message, how to find things, what they are supposed to do, what you are selling? Are they impressed? Ask them what is missing, or what could be made easier or clearer. Ask them what their favorite websites are and why? Incorporate improvements you agree with or get my advise.
The home page is the most important page.
Every page is important and a possible entrance to your site. If someone visits your site for the first time on a content (or landing) page, it needs to make a great impression. Make sure ALL your pages are awesome.
I am a proof reader.
I am a terrible proof reader. I stare at monitors all day long, which is bad for my eyesight. I live by copy-and-paste. What I am trying to say is – YOU are responsible for the text on your website. Please proof your content before you send it to me, proof it after it is published, proof it again and again and again. Have your friends or employees proof it for you. Heck – I have typos on my own websites that I haven’t found for years – probably even this page! If you need a professional proof reader, let me know. I can hire someone. TIP: Read your content out loud. Where you stumble is where you need to make a change.
Website Perfection Guaranteed!
Responsive designs are awesome! Responsive design automatically re-formats content depending on the device being used to view the website. However, the responsive presentations are not 100% perfect. There are different browsers (IE, FireFox, Chrome, Safari), browser versions, Mac or PC, a million different phones/tablets/pads, monitors sizes and resolutions, etc… And, all these things keep changing. It’s just not fair! So, sometimes you have to settle for “good enough”. I know. I hate it too. But it is just the nature of the beast.
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