Web Design Myths: Debunking the 10 Most Common Misconceptions About Websites
Do you know how many pages the ideal website has? Or which page on your website is the most important?
You may think you know the answers to these questions, but if you’re like some of the people we encounter as a top-ranked web design agency, you’d be wrong.
It seems every week we hear a new misconception about what a website should or should not include. And while we love helping our clients turn their web presence around and grow their audience by leaps and bounds, we still there were something more we could do to help the thousands of small businesses we haven’t worked with yet.
So this week, we’re debunking 10 of the most commonly believed web design myths in the hopes that they can help you and your business. Read on to learn the truth about good web design.
1. Web design is set and forget
One of the biggest myths we encounter in our web design business is the idea that once a website is built and published, it’s good forever. In reality, websites need to be updated periodically to rank well in search results and keep your visitors interested and engaged.
If it helps, think of your website as a magazine, not a book. Books are written and published and that’s that. If a second edition comes out, it’s almost always years down the road, and the content is still substantially the same.
Magazines come out much more frequently, on a weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly basis. And while the mission and brand stay the same, each edition has completely new stories and images.
By treating your website like a magazine instead of a book, you ensure that it’s always up to date with current, helpful information. Your visitors stay interested because there’s always something new, and they keep coming back for more updated content.
2. Looks are all there are to good design
Too often, people think of web design as simply how a website looks. But there’s more to web design than pretty fonts and soothing colors.
Good design takes user experience into account and creates elements that function flawlessly, are easy to interact with, and are helpful to your users.
That doesn’t mean that usability is all there is to good design — the pretty fonts and soothing colors matter, too. But the primary function of your website is to get visitors to buy your products or services. If they can’t even find the purchase button, there’s a huge problem.
Good design creates a good user experience. For your website to showcase good web design, it has to be both attractive and functional.
Here’s a myth that really grinds our gears: Your website’s homepage is the only one that matters. While it’s true that your homepage often gets the most visits, it’s far from the only one that matters to your visitors or to Google.
Think about how you find a new website. You probably find it by googling a term or phrase and clicking a blog post or service page that pops up in your search results. From there you probably click over to the homepage, but chances are it isn’t the first one you see. So it’s important to put the same amount of planning and strategy into all of the pages on your website.
4. The CTA has to be above the fold
If you’ve based your website’s page structure on this myth, it’s time to take a second look at the numbers.
A case study by Content Verve found that pages with calls to action lower on the page perform 304% better than pages with a CTA above the fold — i.e., high enough that that you don’t need to scroll to see it.
This is because most people want to learn about your offer or service before purchasing. On average, people need to consume 3-5 pieces of content before deciding to buy from you, so placing your CTA below that content increases the chance that they’ll click through.
If you haven’t put any thought into how the mobile version of your website looks, you could be alienating a huge percentage of your visitors.
Take a look at your website on a smartphone or tablet. Does it automatically resize to fit your smaller screen? Is the text easily legible? Are the buttons a convenient size to tap? Can you see the full images without interference from any of the other elements on the page?
If you answered no to any of these questions, you should consider hiring a professional web design team to help get your mobile website running properly.
6. Mobile websites require fewer features than desktop sites
One misconception about web design we often hear is that mobile websites need fewer features than desktop sites.
In reality, if a feature is important to the user experience for your desktop visitors, it’s just as important for your mobile audience. And if your visitors are used to features on your desktop site, it can be frustrating not to have access to them on a smartphone.
Instead of eliminating important features, prioritize which ones your mobile users need most and place those higher on your mobile page. The mobile version of your site may have an entirely different order of elements than your desktop site, and that’s OK, as long as the restructure is based on mobile users’ behavior.
There’s a fine line between not enough important features on your website and too many elements that simply get in the way. Some elements may sound like a fun idea or make your page look pretty, but they simply don’t help your visitors become customers. These fun but useless features include:
Animated titles and headings
When it comes to good web design, sometimes less is more. If the only reason to include an element on your website is that it’s fun, cool, or pretty, chances are your visitors won’t appreciate it. Better to spend your time and money on something more useful, like marketing your new website.
8. Responsive websites take forever to load
It’s not uncommon that we hear this kind of feedback from clients when we bring up the topic of responsive or mobile websites.
While it’s true that some responsive websites are clunky and slow, a site that’s built properly loads much more quickly. That’s because the longer a page takes to load, the more likely visitors are to abandon it. In fact, 53% of people abandon mobile pages if they take longer than 3 seconds to load.
If your responsive website loads slowly, there are some steps you can take to increase its speed. Flash, very large images, and too many elements all tack on extra load time, but removing them earns you a few precious seconds to grab your audience’s attention.
One web design myth we hear a lot is that more pages make your website better. While there is an element of truth to this belief, it’s still not completely correct.
Your website should only have as many pages as necessary to show your visitors that you can solve their problems. Usually this includes at least:
An about page
A services page
A contact page
Depending on your company’s needs, you may choose to include one page per service, a page to showcase past work, or a page to book appointments. However, a navigation menu that includes more than about 5-6 pages can be overwhelming for your visitors. Here, it’s better to keep things simple and streamlined.
However, part of what Google considers when ranking your website in search results is how recently it’s been updated. Many businesses (including ours) turn to blogging as a way to continually update their websites with new content and improve their search rankings.
Each blog post is technically a new page on your website, and after a few months or years of blogging, your website will house far more than the 5-6 pages in your main navigation menu.
Remember, if it doesn’t have a purpose — i.e., solve a customer problem — then you shouldn’t include it on your website. Be choosy about which pages to include in your main navigation and keep things as simple for your visitors as possible.
10. DIY websites are just as good as professionally designed ones
This is one of the biggest myths we encounter in our business. When it comes to a well-designed, user-friendly website that functions flawlessly across all devices, there’s really no substitute for a professional design team.
DIY websites are notorious for using Flash, which is incompatible with smartphones (and therefore more than half of your visitors). Most DIY website builders only offer a few templates to choose from, which means your site has a high likelihood of looking just like your competitors’ websites.
And if something goes wrong, you’re stuck figuring it out on your own. That translates to a lot of lost hours for your company and a huge headache for you.
Professional web designers know better than to use Flash, and will work with you to come up with a look that’s completely original to your business.
And if something goes wrong on your website, they’re on call to get your website back up and running in no time — and save you the headache of learning to code under pressure.
Let a professional web design team take the wheel
Are you struggling to keep visitors on your website? Are you having trouble ranking well in search results? The problem may be your website itself. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here at Trajectory Web Design, we take pride in our ability to turn lackluster pages into drool-worthy websites that convert casual visitors into lifelong customers. Want to know how we can revamp your website? Tell us about your project to get started.