Nowadays, to create a new website, all it takes is a Squarespace account, crowdsourcing to find a great looking template, integrating your Twitter feed, browsing some free stock imagery, and presto! You have a professional-looking website, complete with a content management system that can help you boost your digital presence.
But, it’s not quite that easy.
In the early days of the Internet, something like this would’ve cost a seven-figure sum. Today, some organizations create these brochure websites for only three figures, including outsourced design and development.
It’s easier than ever to spin up a digital presence for yourself. For organizations, a website is one of the best ways to grow your audiences with search engine optimization (SEO). It’s also a simple and stunning way for your brand’s voice to be heard, especially since there are more people online than we’ve ever had before.
However, we’d like to caution you before you rush down this road of a “quick and easy” website. Our advice can make your digital presence stronger, more distinctive, and more likely to draw you the attention you need. Consider these pitfalls before you embark on a website design project:
1. The Pitfall of Sameness
Yes, good design is more accessible than ever. We’ve managed to quell most of the worst design abuses of the early 1990s. Collectively, the Internet has embraced minimalism, including intuitive ways to present information effectively with easy-to-use navigation. But when you see the same flat design fronting the simple-and-easy look on thousands of websites, it can get a little tiresome.
If your organization is looking to stand out from the competition, you may want to push your designer(s) beyond these tropes. From a business standpoint, the more you successfully express your organization’s unique brand on your website, the further you get ahead of competitors.
In order to do this, reflect on your brand and express it through visual metaphors that set you apart.
2. The Pitfall of Info-Blasting
Most templated websites will direct you to start with a three-column layout, 12 navigation buttons, and then layer in six of your most recent posts, a Twitter feed of your latest tweets, an calendar highlighting the dates of your upcoming events, a sidebar full of additional navigation items, and to what end? A simple question we always ask: is all this really enhancing your audiences’ experience? Does it communicate, at a glance, who you are, why you are different, or what you really have to say? Or did you do this because there was a good-looking theme readily available? Take pause, and ask yourself, “What is my core message, and what is the minimum number of elements that I need to say it with?” Because then your messaging will truly resonate with your audiences.
3. The Pitfall of Site Spread
With all the noise clamoring for audience attention online, many marketers feel like it’s not enough just to have a website. You have to have a blog, a separate blog for your product team, and blogs from key executives. You’ll also want a strong social presence, too. And perhaps, a microsite for your newsletter, and a microsite for a specific product for good measure.
The problem is, now you must manage all these websites and figure out how they fit into your digital marketing mix. It’s important to ask yourself three questions before you launch something new:
- Can you manage it?
- Does it do anything that can’t be incorporated into your main website?
- And do you truly think your audiences will be excited about it?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then don’t create it.
Again, we’re excited that producing a well-designed website is so easy using the various website building platforms available today. But sometimes it’s best to take a step back, relax, and gather your thoughts. Think about how to be different. Think about what your key message is. Think about how the design will support that message.
And then go create something truly stunning.