5 Common Misperceptions about Web Design, Marketing, and Strategy

A website with a great design will attract people to you and convert them to customers. This is achieved when the website reflects your purpose and goals. So before you focus on website design (and to paraphrase the movie “Silver Linings Playbook”) you gotta get a strategy.

A web design marketing strategy requires you to have clarity about what your business is actually trying to accomplish. A strategy forces you to answer some questions about what you do best, what market you are targeting, what action you want your website visitors to take and more.

To make room for great strategy and design, you really need to get rid of outdated ideas about websites and the definition of good marketing. Let’s talk about a few of these common misperceptions because if you don’t know any better, your ship surely will sink before it launches.

1.) People who don’t already know us won’t find us online.
It’s plain wrong to think your website should function as a nice brochure and prove you are legit. If this is your perception, you are failing to understand that a website actually can attract your ideal target market and work to convert those visitors into customers. You don’t have to settle for word of mouth. If you’re still counting on potential clients hearing about you at networking events or by referral, I invite you into the 21st century.

Please don’t sell yourself and your business short. With decent website copy and a design that attracts your target market, and keyword phrases that your ideal clients use in their searches, you will attract Google’s attention. Your website will come up in searches, bringing in a steady stream of new clients or customers.

2.) Our website should showcase our company.

Showing off is no way to persuade web visitors to work with you. Guided by this mistaken belief, you’ll make your website all about your company, your services and awards, your stellar staff, and how you have the best company ever.

Meh. Your potential clients aren’t impressed. They don’t care about you. At least not like that.

People with a problem are looking for businesses that offer a solution. Your potential clients care about what you can do for them. They want to figure out on their own that you are great, and they come to that conclusion because your website showed them your devotion to their need and a solution that is exactly right. A great website is a mirror to their problem, not to how great your company is on paper. 

If you succeed in connecting with people who are looking for your brand of resourcefulness, they will then care very much about you and want to work with you. A “me, me, me” website will leave them cold and bouncing quickly to someone who understands and can help.   

Take a hard look at your website, or have someone you trust to give you feedback. Worth mentioning user experience services? Put yourself in the shoes of the ideal person who needs your unique product or service. Based on your website, would you want to work with your company? Do you stand out and connect clearly with the genuine offer of help? Is it clear what you do and how to do business with you?

Warning: Looking at your site from your ideal customer’s shoes might make you wonder why you ever get any clients at all. But the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

3.) We want to and should appeal to everyone.

No, no, and no. You are not Disney, Starbucks, or Apple. A great website acknowledges that you know exactly the clients you most enjoy working with and who have the resources to pay you what you are worth. Your website conveys exactly what you do for them that makes you special. Your content and images are designed to reinforce this understanding.

Let’s say that women make up 95 percent of the prospects who contact you. Your smarts show when your website images and copy appeal to them. To continue the relationship with you that began with your great website, these potential customers will drag their husbands along if necessary. You won’t, however, connect to these important “someones” if you continue to appeal to “everyone” for “everything.”

The more targeted and specific you can be in your messaging, the more money you can make. You want your ideal customer to read what you wrote and think you had them in mind at the time. Because you did.

4.) We can do so many things, we need to showcase them all.

If you want to attract business, streamline your message. Too many choices will confuse your potential client. Truth: Clients don’t necessarily choose the best company, they choose the company that makes the product or service the easiest to understand.

Please don’t make prospects wade through everything you’ve got. Your copy and design should satisfy their need to know that you understand what they are dealing with and that you have a solution.

All you need is for them to feel good that they are in the right place and want to know more. They will connect with you and that’s the next opportunity to share more information about what you do.

Beware that in an avalanche of information, your most important message becomes vague or lost. What if a business coach posted a Facebook ad promising, “Have a problem with your business? We can help any company with any problem.” That’s not going to attract anyone, right?

A message grounded in specifics like this is so much more compelling: “Need more website traffic? In six online sessions, we can show your team how to do search engine optimization (SEO) that will give you a steady stream of customers and double your revenue.” That copy conveys authority and a solution by defining the problem and results. Your customers recognize their problem and a measurable fix. No more vagueness.

Make your site very easy to follow, and direct your visitor to the specific action you want them to take. If you have a couple of desired actions that will benefit them, decide which is more important and make it clear. When you simplify, you clarify and communicate more effectively.

5.) Design is the most important thing.

Here’s some bad news: Images do not convert a website visitor into a client. The design does not either. Showing people you are cool, hip, and have an artistic and creative website ever means very little.

If you actually want your website to do the heavy work of helping increase your clientele and income, you need to use your words. A great message, crafted by excellent copywriting, is what makes people wish they had found you six months ago and cannot wait to work with you or buy your product.

One way to understand this point is to look at a butt-ugly website that does a big business. Craigslist is exhibit A for this. Design does not in any way distinguish its pages of classified ads, and more to the point, the design doesn’t get in the way. Remember that words do the selling on Craigslist and your site.

Please avoid large words and industry jargon. This tells people that you are talking to other insiders, not to them. People selling B2B are the biggest culprits here because they forget the P. That’s people. Even if you are selling to a business, the business doesn’t have eyes and a brain to read your home page or posts—people do. Strip down the buzzwords and make your message clear. And for Pete’s sake, please don’t write in the third person. It only serves as a wedge between you and your target client.

So now that we’ve cleared up those common misperceptions, you are closer to your clearest, most compelling message. That is the most important thing and your design should support it. With a clear strategy, you are well-positioned to choose page design, colors, graphics, images, and typography that underscore your message and make sure it is understood.

The design and the words should draw your visitor’s eyes down the page, absorbing details and taking the next steps. Each action is aligned with the solution that your business uniquely offers. How clever of you to give them a way to respond that reflects your purpose and goals so well! 

Stay tuned next week where we will leverage strategic thinking to create the most effective content and design for your home page.

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