Top 5 Website Creation Misunderstandings & Mistakes
Greg Macdonald - LWDA Team Member

GREG MACDONALD

Project Manager

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March 15, 2021

Top 5 Website Creation Misunderstandings & Mistakes

When talking to clients about website creation, there are a handful of questions and beliefs that regularly come to our attention.

Several of these have their roots based on popular misunderstandings about the way the web works and the way websites are built. So we thought we would help clarify some of these misconceptions.

This guidance is mainly aimed at those who have never been involved in website creation but are in the market for their first site, or for those who had a website built many years ago and need a new updated digital solution for their brand.

So, without further ado, we present our Top 5 Website Creation Misunderstandings & Mistakes for beginners.

1. Anyone can build a website

OK, to a certain extent this one is true. Thanks to all of the off-the-shelf platforms out there such as Shopify and Wix, it is technically possible for anyone to create a website.

These platforms do offer a level of convenience delivered at a budget-friendly price. But as with all things in life, you get what you pay for and with platforms such as these, there are often hidden costs, restrictions and shortcomings.

Here are our top 3 problems with off-the-shelf website builders:

  1. Changes to the theme will cost you extra. Do you want that logo moved slightly to the left? Sorry, can’t do that. Not unless you pay extra for a developer to change the theme code.
  2. Not all plugins will just work. Why not? Who knows? Could be the fault of the theme developer or the plugin developer. Which one will take responsibility and how long will they take to fix the issue? Will they ever? Or will you have to pay for another developer to try to fix it all for you?
  3. Slow page-load times. This is down to both the platform and the way that the template was built, neither of which you have control over.

To highlight the last point above, I recently spoke to a client about their Shopify store which they were finding restrictive and were looking to have re-built. I ran a test using Google PageSpeed Insights and got the following rather depressing results:

Shopify Website Google Pagespeed Insights

To be clear, a score of 15 is woefully low. If you see lots of red and orange in any page speed test, using Google or GTmetrix, you have a problem.

So what we are saying here is that not everyone can build a website particularly well.

With a bespoke build, you’ll be working with a web agency that is accountable for all elements of the website and how they integrate.

You can have a website created to your exact needs, with a design that is unique to your brand, loads quickly and delivers all the functionality you require.

For more info on this subject, you can check out our article on the differences between bespoke WordPress and Shopify eCommerce website.

2. If you build it they will come

It worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but unfortunately, it’s no longer 1989, and for the rest of us, this approach is a fruitless endeavour.

The common misconception that you can just build a website and suddenly start to receive thousands of visitors only guarantees one thing. Disappointment.

So how do you get visitors for your shiny new website? You need to promote it.

Website Promotion

In order to drive visitors to your website, you’ll need to actively promote your business on & offline.

Make it as easy as possible for people to find your website by creating and executing a digital marketing strategy, including but not limited to the following:

  • Social media campaigns including sponsored posts
  • Online advertising with Google Adwords
  • Offline advertising (sometimes traditional print advertising can still be very useful)
  • Directory website listings such as Yell.com
  • Great website content targeting the most relevant keywords to improve your SEO

It takes time to gain the right kind of website visitors, but if you have a plan in place and you follow it, you should start to see positive results within the first 3 months. Perhaps sooner.

 

How long does it take to rank on Google?

3. You will appear on Google immediately after launching your new website

Nope. Sorry, your site will not appear in Google listings the same day or even the day after it goes live.

Specifically, this comment is aimed at new domains (a web address that has never been used before), or at a domain that has not been used for a very long time.

Unfortunately, there is nothing your web developer can do about this. It is frustrating and it feels like it should be possible, but it takes time for Google to crawl and index your website, so you just have to be patient.

How long does it take to rank on Google?

This is a great question, which many have tried to answer, but unfortunately, the answer is not finite.

Just how long it takes for your new website to rank on Google is down to a range of factors, but the general thinking is between three to six months. Possibly as long as a year if you are launching into a very competitive marketplace.

But don’t lose heart. You’ll need to remember that you are not alone in the task of trying to get your website ranking well on Google. In fact, every website owner is constantly trying to improve their ranking.

Our top tip for gaining a good foothold in Google SERPs is to create a brand with a unique and memorable name that does not use overly-common words.

One good approach is to combine parts of existing words to create a new word, or perhaps change the spelling of a word so that it still reads as you need it to, but is available in your desired .com or .co.uk domain extension.

A good example of this is an American ice cream sandwich brand that I once worked with called Moojo. The name was a twist on the word mojo, with an added ‘o’ to communicate the fresh dairy content in the product.

The name was completely unique. No other companies were using that name and there were hardly any references for it online anywhere.

The result was that within a very short space of time, the Moojo website was ranking highly for the brand name, alongside their social channels.

Unfortunately, the brand no longer seems to be active, but if you Google their name, their social channels and Trip Advisor reviews page are still raking at the top of Googles SERPs.

 

Website Content Population

4. Your web agency will create ALL of your website pages

It’s an understandable presumption that your web design agency will create and populate all of the pages on your site as part of the website creation project. But generally, this will not be the case.

Most web agencies cost a project based upon the work taken to create all of the page templates. Not the individual pages themselves.

This is to say that the homepage is one template, a product page is another temple, the contact page is another template, etc.

The reason for this resides in the old adage ‘time is money’. Meaning that the more time an agency takes building your site, the more it will cost you.

All agencies strive to deliver good value for money. The best value comes from focussing on the tasks that require their expertise, such as design, programming, systems integrations, etc.

Website Content Population

As part of the build process, the agency will create some pages that use common templates, such as products, location pages or blog posts. This is to test the CMS and make sure that the site is working as required.

Once the agency is satisfied that the CMS and front-end of the website are functioning as required, they will transfer access to the client so that they can log in and populate the rest of the pages with content (text, images, videos, etc).

Content Population is something that can be delegated to any person with CMS access, including an intern for example. Enabling you to keep the project budget to a minimum.

If you would prefer that your web agency creates all of the pages on your site, it is wise to discuss this ahead of time so that they can quote for this as an additional task.

5. Carousels are really good tools for showing content.

Ah, the ubiquitous website carousel.  AKA slideshow. AKA ‘Rotating Offers’. Mostly used at the top of the homepage and possibly on key category landing pages to show just how many things the company has to sell.

Got a new service to promote? Stick it in the carousel. Got new product lines launching? Whack ’em all in the carousel.

Carousels were cool at first. A handy way of delivering several important messages to visitors without taking up additional screen space. That was until they became the dumping ground for every department’s marketing goal.

Carousels have been used, abused and no longer command the attention of the viewer as they once did.

Don’t just take our word for it. Usability expert Jakob Neilson has been running tests on these things for years and published a damning report as far back as 2013.

So why are we still using them? If everyone else is using them then they must be onto something. Right?

Wrong.

Top 5 reasons why carousels are bad for your website

  1. Negative impact on UX. People like to be in control of their website experience, which is drastically reduced if you try to make them interact with a carousel that is set to autoplay at a speed that you feel is right, but is actually too fast to read all of the text on each of the slides.
  2. Adding more slides will not improve visibility for the offers at the back of the run. The click-through rate for carousel slides drops-off massively after the first 2 or 3. So, if you are wondering why your rotating offers are not getting clicks, that’s why.
  3. Page-load times increase. More slides add to the ‘weight‘ of the page, slowing load times and impacting UX. Slow page-load speeds also have a negative impact on SEO.
  4. Poor mobile adaptation. One reason that carousels were so popular many years ago was that we only had desktop machines to design for. A nice widescreen format with tones of screen space to fill with your cool images and text. But this has changed.
    We now have a multitude of screens to consider and many of these are just not big enough to accommodate the content we are throwing at them.
    Also, users prefer to scroll on mobile devices rather than attempt to interact with arrows or dots that control a slider.
  5. They just look like adverts. Everyone hates banner ads on websites and there is a big danger that your carousel just looks like another banner ad, which will get ignored by the visitor.

Instead of using a carousel, implement a marketing strategy that involves regular updates to your homepage and other landing pages.

Use one static image or a range of images that slowly fade-through one another, and accompany this visual with one simple strong message.

Include a clear call-to-action that guides users and use Google Analytics to track the effectiveness of that element. You could even use A/B testing to try different layouts before settling on what works for your site.

Do you have any other common website creation misunderstandings or mistakes to add to the list?

Have we missed any glaringly obvious issues that arise time & time again when dealing with website creation for new brands?

Be you a client or developer, we’d love to hear your feedback. So Tweet us, message us on LinkedIn or Facebook and we’ll add them into the mix.

If you are a startup or entrepreneur who is looking to have a new website created for their brand and would like to talk to a web design agency about website creation, feel free to get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you!

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