Top 10 myths about websites

There’s lots of misinformation out there about websites, from building to management, from cost to writing.

This post contains our cumulative list of the top ten myths we’ve heard in our 16 years of building websites. Hopefully you find some helpful information in here to help educate you on what’s true and what’s not.

A business doesn't need a website.

If you’re a business of any kind, especially in today’s modern world, you need a website. Whether you build it yourself or hire someone doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if it’s the next Amazon or not, you just need to be findable online.

We’ve talked in the past about what kind of information you should put on your site, but at minimum, you should have your contact information and hours (if you operate a physical location).

If you sell products, the ability to buy online is a big win, too. Customers may not be able to get to your shop to buy from you, but buying online is an option for most anyone these days.

Some tips for getting online:

  • Just do it! Build something simple yourself, hire a pro, whatever you do, just do it.
  • Buy a domain that’ll be easy to find. mikesshop.com is easier for customers to remember than mikesbusinessshopllcinboston.com. I know it’s tough to find an original business URL these days but do your best.
  • Pick a reliable web host. How? We have some more tips here.
  • Revamp, improve, change. A website isn’t set in stone, get it live and revamp it over time. Add content, add features, make it better and easier to use.
  • Don’t go hog wild with colors or fonts. I know it’s easy to get pulled into the ether with all the choices of colors and fonts out there. But don’t. Pick a good color palette and stick with it. Coolors and Colormind are great resources to help you pick color schemes for sites.

If you’re worried about the cost of having a website, I pose this to you: how much is it costing you to not have a website?

Once my site launches, I'm done.

Planning, designing, building and populating your site with content may seem like the bulk of your work. Launching and publicizing all your hard work is the end, right?

Nope. It’s not. It’s actually only the beginning.

Once your site goes live, it needs love and attention. Especially if you want it to rank in search engines. One of the biggest and most important pieces of SEO is fresh and unique content that’s posted frequently.

If your site becomes stale, search engines will start ignoring it. Which is bad for any business.

In addition to posting new and fresh content, you’ll always want to make sure you’re:

  • Checking your site’s email
  • Checking your form submissions (if they don’t come to your email)
  • Updating your CMS when there’re new versions
  • Updating your CMS plugins when there’re new versions
  • Check your online reviews and respond to them
  • Monitor your uptime
  • Keep track of your analytics
  • If you’re selling products via eCommerce, update order statuses

There’s so much work that you should be doing daily — if not more than once a day — when your site goes live. Launching is just the beginning.

You can save money by building it yourself.

It seems like an easy win to build your site yourself, right? There are lots of web builders that make it easy these days.

But what does that cost?

What is the cost of not having a professional help you? I could go on and on about how much better a professionally built website will look, but what about the functionality?

Are you able to troubleshoot a problem with your payment gateway if a charge goes missing? What happens if you build your site and it doesn’t look good on a mobile phone? How do you fix that?

There’s a lot of what-ifs, but the biggest one I come across (and get emails about) is during an emergency. What would you do if your site was offline? Do you know who to call? Do you know how to try to fix it yourself?

Working with a professional will not only yield a better-finished result but will allow you to build a relationship with a subject matter expert that will be there for you in a pinch. I’ve been thankful that I don’t get waken up by panicked calls at 2 am too often, but it does happen from time to time. I’m more than happy to get up, go to my computer and help fix whatever’s wrong. No matter what it takes.

Will hiring a professional cost you more upfront? Yes, absolutely. But there’s a strong chance you’ll make that investment back with sales or new clients from your beautiful new site.

Writing content is the easy part.

As the owner of the website, you undoubtedly have thought this in the past. You’ll just spend an afternoon whipping up all of your content, all of your marketing material, your press releases. It’ll be easy, right?

What if I told you that almost every project I’ve worked on in the last 16+ years was delayed because I was waiting on the final copy from the client.

We, as web developers, always worry about us being the cause of delays, but it’s more often than not content that holds up the end of a project.

If you have the means for it, hire a content writer. There are lots of them out there and they not only do an amazing job but are worth every penny you’d pay them. You’ll get clear, concise, third-party, unbiased content produced on the timeline you need.

When you’re writing it yourself, it’s so easy to just say “oh, I’ll do this tomorrow” and put it aside for something else. If you hire someone, you’ll likely do an interview with them, point them to some of your competitors, give them a deposit, and tell them when you need the content for.

Most of them will even worth directly with your web developer to deliver the content right to your working copy of your new site.

I can't afford to hire a professional.

I hate to say this, there’s a reason it’s a cliche. There’s also a reason it’s true about almost everything in life. I hate to say it, but I have to:

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.

The same thing’s true with your website. If you’re in business, remember that your website is likely the first thing a potential customer will see about you. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, potential customers will be looking for a company that provides the services you do or sells the goods you sell and they’ll Google you.

If they land on a website that doesn’t look good, has stale content, or just doesn’t feel welcoming, there’s a good chance the potential customer will go back to Google and pick the next result.

Hiring a professional doesn’t have to cost a fortune (for instance, we offer some packages that can get you a very nice looking — albeit not completely custom — website for roughly $4,000), though it certainly can cost a fortune. The more complex it is, the more robust you want it to be, the more it’ll cost.

Think of it like building a house. You can have a house built that you’ll like for X. You can have a house that you’ll love for Y. You can have a house you’ll want to live in forever for Z. Websites can be the same. Many professionals will also work with you in iterations, too. You’ll be able to build your version  1 of the site for X, then add on to it over time (as more funds become available, for example.)

Paid marketing will make my website successful.

Let me start by saying that I’m a firm believer in paid marketing and paid SEO. But it needs to be done right.  Which, unfortunately, it usually isn’t.

A lot of folks — sometimes even including myself — think they can do everything. Run the business, build the website, hire the people, manage the projects, and market the whole business.

If you’re not a marketing person, chances are you’re going to throw away your money on paid advertising. There is a reason companies exist that are solely marketing companies. They do the research, they write the copy, and sometimes they film ads or record radio commercials for you. It’s what they do.

If you’re just going into Facebook Ad manager or Google Adwords and throwing money at keywords or target audiences you think are looking for your business, you might as well just throw your money in the toilet. It’s very difficult to effectively market your business when you’re too close to it and when you don’t have experience with marketing.

Marketing can — and often does — help businesses grow. With the help of a professional. A good one. Expect to pay for a good marketer, but also expect to get excellent results out of it, too.

I can use photos I find on Google on my website.

Finding an image on Google may be the easiest option to find imagery to your site. It’s certainly cheaper than hiring a photographer and taking original photos. By why can’t you? Or, rather, why shouldn’t you? (There’s really nothing stopping you from doing it, but it’s not right to do it.)

Photographs, like anything produced, have copyrights associated with them. Most photos that show up in Google results don’t grant you (or anyone) rights to use their works, only to look at them online. The photographer/artist’s hope is that you’d see their work on Google, go to their site (or a licensing site) and buy a license for you to use it.

If you’re already doing that, great. If you’re not, stop it.

If you want free images to use on your site, there’s plenty of services where photographers or artists can upload their work to and specifically grant you a license for free. We use a lot of free stock photographs on our blog posts (you can see one at the top of this post, for example). If you want to find free (and good quality) images, check out any of these sites:

All of those sites off great quality, royalty-free, stock photographs for you to use. Some require you give credit to the photographer, some don’t. Be sure to comply with the rules. You wouldn’t be happy if someone used your work and didn’t give you credit, would you?

My site doesn't need to be responsive.

To oversimplify — in case you’re not familiar — “responsive” simply means that your site loads an appropriately sized version for any screen size someone might be viewing it on; mobile, tablet, or desktop.

Responsive isn’t a very old technology, in comparison to websites on the whole. So, the chances are, if your site was built more than 5 or 6 years ago, that it’s not responsive. If you have to zoom in when you view your site on your iPhone, it’s not responsive.

Back in the day, this was okay, because most traffic to websites was on computers, not phones. Nowadays, that’s flipped and most web traffic is on mobile devices. People look things up while on the go, or because they’re laying in bed and it’s more convenient on their phone. Whatever the reason is, traffic on mobile devices has skyrocketed.

For example, a few of my clients get more than 80% of their traffic from mobile phones.

That means it’s more important than ever to have a version of your site optimized for mobile, through responsive technology. This’ll ensure that — even on a mobile phone — people will get an enjoyable experience on your site and then hopefully buy from you or contact you to hire you.

I'll make my initial investment back very quickly once I launch.

Calculating return on investment (ROI) for a website is always a slippery slope. Unless you sell very expensive items, like jewelry, computers, or the like, it’s going to take some time to make your investment back.

Even with the world’s best website, sales may not skyrocket just because you re-launched the site with a new fancy logo and colors and cool new features. You need to market those changes, talk about them, tell your mailing list about them. Informing your existing customer base is the best way to get eyeballs on your new site and to hopefully sell more stuff.

For example, let’s say you spent $5,000 on your new site, but your average sale is $5. Even if you double the number of sales you made on your old site, it’s still going to take a while to make back your $5,000.

However, if your average sale is $2,500, you’ll obviously make your money back much quicker in doubling your sales.

A new website isn’t a be-all-end-all fix. There’s a lot more that goes into running a successful business online than just doing a new site. Hopefully you find some helpful tips on our blog, but certainly, reach out if we can help you with anything!

Cover photo by Negative Space

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *