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5 Persistent Myths About Web Design

We’ve all seen examples of great, flashy web design, and that has led many to some very wrong beliefs about designing sites. Here are a few of those myths.

Websites are the life blood of the internet. Without them, the internet would cease to be the amazing resource it is. In the old days, you just had to put up a page on Angelfire, or GeoCities and it was as bare bones as it got with almost nothing in the way of structure. These days websites are multi-tiered and have complicated, flashy functions, Javascript, CSS, it’s akin to learning a new language.

The utility of websites are clear. You can conduct business, gain free exposure for your brand by combining it with social media, cultivate relationships with your audience/consumers, and most importantly get your ideas out there.

However there are a few misconceptions about web design that either scare people away, or cause them to make and launch sites that are disasters to look upon and navigate. Here are 5 of the most prevalent:

Myth#1: Only Big National Businesses Need Websites

This is a common thought that’s a holdover from the beginning of the internet where only those with deep pockets and the resources to devote a small team to web development had any use for websites. But these days people turn to the internet for information on literally everything. Even local “Mom and Pop” businesses could benefit greatly from websites. If you’re a restaurant or a store, people may want to take a look at your menu beforehand or get directions or business hours.

A website tells people all about you; it’s your representative out there on the web. It tells them what to expect, as well as giving them means to contact you. Having a website is the minimum for a company today as much as social media is for individuals. Both are expected and not having them may make people ask, “Why should I care?”

Myth #2 Web Design Is All About the Bells and Whistles

It’s tempting when creating a website to have the design be a work of art in order to catch the eye and differentiate your site from the pack. But often, this leads to flashy but useless pages that are hard to navigate, hard for browsers to load, and ultimately frustrate visitors looking for info. Usability must come first.

There’s no reason that a website can’t be beautiful, but there has to be a balance of function and style. There are quite a few sites that exemplify this concept, blending style and function seamlessly. They understand that making sites too “busy” with animations and fancy script can slow down page load times, make navigation difficult, or in some browsers impossible. There needs to be a compromise between web design conventions and artistic flair.

Myth #3 Feedback Isn’t Useful or Important

Remember all those times that Facebook changed things randomly, without warning? Remember how well that went over? Sure you do. The only reason people haven’t all jumped ship yet is because there isn’t anywhere else for them to go really. Most websites can’t take that kind of chance. User feedback is essential to design, as it can tell you where things need to be fixed and fine-tuned. It can also provide you with an insight as to how visitors view your site. Allowing you to make things more user friendly and foster more engagement.

Myth #4 Web Sites Are Too Technical/Expensive to Maintain

Considering the massive monetary potential of the internet, it’s a bit shocking to those in the know that this myth exists. Even for those just looking to promote themselves, they can get in on the action as there are many free web hosting solutions out there. Those with an actual business are probably going to want a paid service in order to be able to handle the load of customers and orders. There are quite a few options in the hosting arena, from personal servers to more robust secure servers. Here’s a list of the top 5 web hosting sites.

Web hosting providers also have tools available that make maintaining a website easier, as you don’t need to have coding skills to edit your site. For businesses, there are even a host of online tools that will help with various aspects of maintaining a business online.

Just to name a few:

  • YourMembership – a full service customer relationship management tool that collects data from your customers and provides you with advanced analytics based on customer behavior as well as allowing you to engage your customers on any device, among other things
  • Buffer – Buffer lets you add content (links, photos, videos, etc.) to a queue and automatically posts them at a time you schedule to all of your social media accounts.
  • WordPress – a free webtool that started out as a blogging tool, but through the use of plugins and widgets, can become pretty much anything you want.
  • Slack – a communication program for the office, Slack allows for group conversations, file sharing, a conversation search function, and even has an app for iOS and Android that can sync to your team, so you’ll always be in touch.

Myth # 5 Looking Good on Your Computer Means It’s Ready

With all the tablets and smartphones and “phablets” with all different screen sizes, this is a HUGE one. More and more people regularly access the internet using some type of mobile device, so it’s important to design sites that are compatible in various screen sizes. Also, mobile devices as a necessity tend to have weaker processors than desktop computers, and thus can’t be loading pages that are “heavy” on memory. Google has begun to take this into account when ranking sites and will rank mobile friendly sites higher than those that aren’t.

It’s a good idea to consider those on outdated browsers that aren’t able to display certain elements of your site. Your site should at least be navigable and a user should still be able to get all the important information off the page. Responsive web design has been a way to address this shift as it allows for pages to shift and rearrange depending on the size and orientation of the screen it’s displayed on. Here are a few good examples of responsive web design.

Understanding these myths will give you a head start in fixing issues before they become a problem. The truth is there’s a lot to consider when making a site that’s useful and unique. With the world shifting its gaze to the smartphones and tablets, web design has become a huge part of commerce and communication.

Mordecai Hunter is a writer with aspirations to start his own consulting firm. He has traveled the globe and speaks 4 languages. In his spare time, he plays and repairs guitars and loves video games.

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