New things and great expectations go hand in hand and very few things are as pumped up as a business owner with a brand new website. This is it folks. You’ve searched far and wide to find the perfect web agency to fulfill your every whim, you’ve been patient through all the long and tedious development stages, you’ve paid hand over fist to see your “baby” come to life and now it’s time to reap the rewards! cue epic victory score composed, or at least, inspired by Hans Zimmer. This is the moment your business changes forever, except it won’t. Not really.
Misconceptions about what a website actually is and does lead to unrealistic expectations which, in turn, lead business owners and/ or managers to blame agencies or designers for their eCommerce store’s less-than-stellar performance, rather than admit that either the Internet simply doesn’t work the way they’d like it to, or that they’ve simply been sabotaging themselves. If you don’t want to be sorely disappointed, here’s what you shouldn’t expect from your website.
Fall in love with it
Probably the biggest misconception regarding websites is that they’re supposed to be “pretty” and “liked”. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A website, be it an eCommerce store, blog, portfolio, etc is functional. It’s there to sell, communicate, showcase and sometimes a bit of everything and a few more things in between and statistics show you’ve got little over half a second to help your audience form an opinion about your website. It’s not there for you to like or judge from an aesthetic point of view. Even so, every single business owner tries to get their own ideas, examples, sketches, childhood dreams through the proverbial door and into their website.
It’s precisely this sense of ownership that prevents clients from distancing themselves from the project and letting designers and developers do their jobs. There’s a fine line between telling the designer or agency what you need and telling them what you want and how to do it. It’s a bit like going to the emergency room with a busted arm and telling the doctor you’d like a chevron stitch with baby pink thread. Oh and you simply must have a bare minimum of 4.
Often businesses are the architects of their own failures when it comes to website design. It’s true that agencies give into client demands rather than invest more time in trying to talk them out of wrong decisions, which is why it’s extremely important to turn to someone who can properly advise you and not someone who’ll simply do as their told. A good designer will give you what you need, whether you like it or not.
Replace your marketing campaigns
Well now that we have this gorgeous website with no less than 5 banners on one page and 3 contact form on another, which by the way is an awful idea, we can stop pouring so much money into marketing and start saving up, right? After all, we’ve just paid a random amount of money for this magnificent hunk of website. If you’ve gone for a website redesign in an effort to cut down on your marketing costs, you’re about to find out just how lonely a place the Internet can be.
Your brand new website suffers from the same acute condition every other web domain does, namely the issue of discoverability. Regardless of how functional, pretty, innovative your website is, having those attributes only helps once users visit your website and for that they, obviously have to discover it. The effects of a redesign are apparent much sooner when applied to users who are frequent visitors and access it directly but take, what may seem like eons, for new visitors.
And here’s where your marketing campaigns come into play. Contrary to popular opinion, an online marketing campaign’s primary purpose isn’t to sell an arbitrary sum of things. It’s main objective is to find and effectively use the overlap between your product or service and your audience’s needs and, in finding this sweet spot, make you stand out within your market segment. No website, no matter how wonderful can advertise itself. However, an effective marketing campaign identifies the people who want/ need your product and brings them to your website, while the website captures and converts said traffic into sales. Which brings us to the next misconception.
It won’t skyrocket your sales
I’ve mentioned that part of a website’s job description is to capture and convert traffic. Still, this doesn’t mean that your brand new website will automatically make you filthy rich simply by being there. Confused yet? Let me explain. If you’re starting an eCommerce business from scratch, you will, in time, see an increase in sales thanks to your online shop. That’s because, since we’re talking about a new business, any amount of sales represents an increase when compared to nothing. Things are quite different when it comes to redesigns.
The latter is a process that involves understanding what users are doing on the old website, what features or lack of features are chasing away potential customers, determining how the business can be better represented, how to build a better experience for your visitors and many other factors we’ll get into in a later article. This is probably the stage where most businesses sabotage themselves in part because they press their personal preferences on the design and development team without fully understanding what they’re doing but mostly, and this is the saddest bit, because service providers are either too lazy or to complacent to explain their decision-making process and talk clients out of bad choices. An important statistic to mention at this point is that research shows 94% of people cited web design as the reason they mistrusted or rejected a website, which is why design and development teams doing their jobs right is so important for you and your business.
If, and I have to stress the if, done right a redesign will increase your sales by simply being less disruptive to the user’s experience and being better at converting traffic. However, there are issues that a redesign can’t fix. If your product is overpriced, a flashy website likely won’t dupe visitors into spending more on the exact same product and neither will it wipe clean a horrific reputation. What it can do, is showcase the benefits that justify the higher prices and slowly but steadily, help you build trust between the business and its potential customers by being more transparent, offering more secure payment options and professional customer support.
The Bottom Line
Of course, a responsive and functional website is not cheap and a substantial investment can blur the line between hopes and the actual potential of your new website. This is why it’s extremely important for design and development teams to accurately outline what the business owner can expect from their website, its goals and for business managers and owner to let these teams do their jobs. Why? Because in a world in which over $1 trillion in all retail sales per year are web-influenced, can you really afford to have a website you enjoy more than your potential customers?