9 business website design myths to dump immediately
Legend has it, that on a stormy, moonlit night not unlike tonight, an unnamed beast roams the earth looking for…
Sorry, wrong kind of myth. I got a little carried away.
We’re talking about some equally as spooky myths — website design myths.
Most myths are scary because there is always a tiny nugget of truth to them; some piece that makes it seem believable.
Website design myths aren’t really that different, but just like urban legends, when you break them down, there’s not all that much to be afraid of.
Below, I’ve shared some of the biggest design myths I hear on the reg as a business website designer). I can tell you from experience that you are not alone in standing by these ideas, but relax, unclench your jaw, relax your shoulders, and let’s talk through what you should be doing instead.
1. You need to redesign your entire website or it will look sloppy
When you think of a website redesign, typically people think of redesigning every single page of their site from scratch. This can make you believe that if you don’t do this your website will look messy or incomplete.
So no, not exactly.
What will make your website look sloppy are inconsistencies. This could mean using different fonts, button colors, call-to-action styles, illustrations, or images, among other things.
If you were to only redesign your homepage and not address the overall aesthetics of the rest of these items on your pages, then yes — 100% sloppy. Visual continuity is very important in building trust with the user. Disorganized visuals trigger a subliminal message to the user that your product or service may be just as disorganized or “careless” and no one wants to give their money to a careless business.
But, that still doesn’t mean you need to redesign your entire website.
What you can do is a phased redesign approach (i.e. Growth-driven design) where you put your initial effort (budget, strategy, etc.) to a few pages that will make the most impact in your user journey, which typically does include the homepage.
In redesigning this page (and perhaps a few others), you can update the styles of the rest of your site (without changing things like content or layout).
You can update key unifying elements like font styles, button styles, image treatments, background treatments, and spacing that can be applied with very little additional time universally to your site.
This way your users will still have a smooth visual experience while going through all of your pages without you having spent a lot of additional time updating all pages of your site. This is especially helpful to keep in mind for really large sites.
2. Your website is a marketing tool
Well, technically yes, your website is a marketing tool, but even more so it is a sales tool. Not only is it a sales tool, but you should consider it a part of your sales team. It is your 24/7, seven days a week, works holidays and weekends, never complains, member of your sales team.
70% of your users' buying decisions are made before ever filling out a form or picking up a phone to contact you. So, you better hope they are getting good, accurate information. How do you do that? Make sure it is easy to find on your site and easy to understand.
Ask your sales team what questions they get again and again and address them with content and a carefully crafted journey.
A quick win you can easily implement is to lead with who you serve on your homepage and let the user segment themselves.
Berry Insurance does this right with call-out boxes for their two largest segments, personal vs. business insurance. Since the content for each of these personas is so different it makes sense to address this almost immediately on the homepage then take the user where they need to go.
Though Berry only used two segments upfront, this works for breaking up as many as four to six segments.
Not only will this reduce friction for your user (which they will love), but it will take answering these questions of your salespeople so they can handle more important conversations.
3. If you do it right, you don’t have to change your website often
”But I just redesigned my website last year.”
“I put a lot of time, money, and effort into getting my site up and running. It should be good now.”
“Our industry/product/service doesn’t change fast, so our site doesn’t require many updates”
Businesses often think that their websites are “set it and forget it.” They can redesign it, top to bottom, every few years and not worry.
Wrong-o again, Buddy-o. Your website should never be done. Say it with me one time… Your. 👏 Website. 👏 Should. 👏 Never. 👏 Be. 👏 Done. 👏
While “brochure” websites may have been okay in the early 2000s, today, the landscape of the internet is continually changing. The landscape of your industry is likely continually changing too. So why wouldn’t your website?
Now, this isn’t to say you have to do a complete redesign every month, week, or year, but you should be tweaking elements of it often.
Does your message still address your customer’s pain points? Are your graphics or visuals relevant? Are your competitors answering questions you’re not?
You should also keep a pulse on UX insights and case studies as user behavior is ever-changing as well. One of the most important elements of UX and marketing that’s often pushed aside in the interest of time, money, and effort is testing.
Even things that statistically work might not work well for your audience. The only way to truly know is to test. What may have been useful two months ago, may be replaced with new studies or user data today.
This is all part of growth-driven design, which revolves around testing changes on your website, tracking how they perform, then making more. You do this continuously to maintain the highest performance.
This is a whole topic in and of itself, but if you’re curious this is a great place to start.
🔎 Related: What is Growth-driven Design?
4. Showing pricing upfront will scare away customers and give my competition a leg up
This is one myth we see rear its head over and over again. We all have a tendency to protect our pricing information like if our customers or competitors found out we’d be destroyed, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
First misconception on the chopping block: “If we put it up on our site our competitors will beat our pricing.”
Ask yourself this: Do you know generally what your competition is charging? I’m sure you do, right?
So they probably generally know what you are charging too. Often times it even comes right from the mouths of our potential buyers in the sales process by saying well “so and so was going to charge me this much”. It’s not really that confidential so it’s better to take the lead by sharing this information openly.
🔎 Related: 9 Tips for Being More Trustworthy & Transparent With Your Pricing Page
Next up: “If we put pricing up there for our customers, it will scare them away.”
Humans are scared of what they don’t know. That includes pricing. Being as open as you can with your pricing will help your potential customers build their case for you and build confidence in your transparency and put their minds at ease with at least having an idea of what they’re getting into.
Knowing your price range could also help people that aren’t a good fit disqualify themselves right then and there, saving you from going through the whole sales process with someone who can’t afford you.
Last but not least… “Our pricing is too complicated.”
Again, you are not alone in thinking this. Yes, plenty of models are complicated and can’t give an exact number; that’s totally fine.
What you do in that case is give a general range and explain the things that affect the price and how. Tell the user what information will drive the price up and what will drive it down. What is included and not included. Tell them when and how you will be able to actually tell them a price in your consultation.
Vidyard has a fantastic example of a pricing page.
From showing high-level pricing up at the top and a more detailed table showing all possible features and how they affect the packages to a well-placed expandable FAQ section that links to additional resources, this is a golden example of what a pricing page should be.
Transparency is the name of the game. If you need a few examples on how to do this well on your website, Liz has got your back.
🔎 Related: 11 pricing page examples for business websites (updated for 2021)
5. Your website should be about you
It’s easy to think that since it’s your website, it should be all about you, but nope; It’s really about your user and how you can make them a hero.
Users don’t want to read paragraphs about how great your service is or what makes you so great. They want you to tell them how you will make their life better and what makes you qualified to be the brand to do that.
Your user wants to be heard. They want to know that you see them and understand their problem and when they can recognize that in your website, they are more likely to engage.
🔎 Related: How to write converting website copy without writing about yourself
Take a look at your current website content and count the amount of times the word “you” is used versus “we” or “our.”
We tend to talk about ourselves a lot. It’s okay, it’s only natural, but with our websites we need to actively focus on the “you” or our user. We’ve found the ideal ratio from our customer’s point of view is five-to-one meaning you should refer to your user five times more than you talk about yourself. This helps keep the focus on them, not you.
6. Giving user’s too many learning resources will overwhelm them
Some marketers (and sales folk alike) believe that giving your users too many free resources on your website will confuse and overwhelm them. While analysis paralysis is a real thing, that’s usually not the case when someone is early on in their buyer’s journey. This misconception can lead to businesses withholding information or limiting how much they share and this is the worst thing you could do.
Your users are smart. They want information that will ultimately help them and they want to consume at their own pace.
Remember when I mentioned that 70% of a buyer’s decision is made before they ever make contact with you? The best thing you can do to reach your customer is to create plenty of helpful informative content on your website and make it easy to find.
Making sure that your learning resources are well organized and easy to find (i.e. having them in a learning center with search bar) are the keys to a delightful and painless user journey.
Harmonic achieves all of that with a simple search and filtering system above card listings for a variety of different resource types.
Another great way to direct your users is to employ a self selection tool. Self-selection tools help direct users to a product, service, or even resource specially selected for them by answering a few simply questions.
By putting your user in the driver’s seat, you not only ease the friction on their end, but you help filter out the noise. You show them exactly what they should be looking at for their needs, rather than going through everything you have to offer on your website.
I love the above example from the popular meal kit provider, HelloFresh.
It’s a super simple interactive tool to help guide the user to the plan that is right for them in just five short questions. This helps the user from trying to sort out which plan suits their needs and wants.
Customers will always have questions about your product or service. The more you can clearly answer their questions with your website will help eliminate any friction and make users feel better about giving you their information and starting that relationship.
7. Website content has to be long to clearly explain your message
Don’t let the previous point fool you. You want to be forthcoming with information, but direct. It’s easy to get really wordy with your website content. Lots of people think it is how you make sure the user understands what you do, what your product is, and how it helps.
Truthfully, however, your high word count isn’t doing you any favors. Your user doesn’t want to do more work to get a short answer. They’ve got very busy little brains that are already jacked up with all sorts of information and they need the short and dirty of it.
If you’re familiar with the StoryBrand model then you’ve heard the phrase “If you confuse, you lose.” This idea is as simple as it sounds. Make your point as concise as you can.
Too many words will only add noise to all the information the user is already trying to absorb and make your intended message less prominent.
From a design standpoint, you’ll want to “chunk” up your content. Chunking is a UX principle that stems from cognitive psychology by George A. Miller that suggest breaking up a larger piece of information into smaller more absorbable snippets makes it easier for the observer to retain that information.
Optimonk’s homepage is a prime example of this.
When talking about features and benefits instead of going the typical header and a paragraph route, they break up that information into three or more smaller sub-headers the user can easily scan.
Notice they don’t overwhelm each of those subheaders, but keep the content to about a paragraph for each. Technically this is about the same word count as a paragraph but in a much more digestible format.
8. Customers just want to call you
I can’t tell you the number of clients I personally have worked with that promise me that people want easy access to their phone number to call them directly.
I can promise you that, in almost every single case, this is not true. How often do you find yourself wanting to pick up the phone and call some companies sales guy for information? I’m betting it’s not a lot.
According to a study by Zipwhip, modern buyers find calls intrusive and prefer to communicate other ways (among other objections.)
Your customers want to protect their time and when they have no choice but to pick up that phone, they have no idea how long it could take.
That’s where chatbots really shine. Users are much more comfortable engaging in a virtual chat that they know tend to be relatively quick and painless (and they can end it at anytime!)
Improving your overall “touchless sale” throughout your site with things like a chatbot, easy, clear navigation, and site search will help your users find the information they need with the least amount of friction, helping them solve problems for themself and in turn building trust in you because you helped get them there.
Take it one step at a time
So I know that’s probably a lot of information all at once. Kind of like drinking from a fire hose situation, but the good news is you don’t have to change overnight.
One of the best ways to take advantage of growth-driven design is to change something and test. Get real data on your real users. The internet, as I hope I’ve made abundantly clear at this point, is not permanent. The only real way to know if something will work for you or not is to try it.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and test something new out today.
Wondering where to begin?