There are so many misconceived notions when it comes to web design that we’re breaking them up over a three-part series. In Part 1, we covered Misconceptions #1 through #4. Now it’s time to brace yourself as we destroy more lies about web design.

Misconception #5 – Copying my competition will ensure my website is successful.

Stand out from the competitionThat is just wrong, straight up.

When you first start thinking about your online presence, it is a good idea to evaluate your competition and be aware of the strategies and tactics they’re using to attract customers. But unless you have access to their Google Analytics account, you really can’t be sure if their website is functioning to the best of its ability. Copying your competition’s website could be a hindrance to your success rather than a help.

Design to Meet Your Business Objectives

What works for your competition may not be the most logical layout for you. Think about your goals and mission. What objectives do you want YOUR website to achieve? As a business trying to stick out against your competitors, taking a copycat approach is that last thing that will differentiate you.

Keep it Fresh

If you want to be seen as the best of the best in the industry, do something unique! Sure there are best practices to follow regarding features and design trends, but use those as inspiration to create an original, eye-catching site.

Misconception #6 – Websites are only meant to present information.

No, no, no! This is the web 2.0 age. Yes you need to give your audience information about your company and brand, but there’s a way to do this on your website in an interactive way. Take advantage of all the possible features that can be incorporated into a website (OK maybe not all of them, but the ones that make sense with the goals of your site).

Websites: Have a Two-Way Conversation

Websites are not a one-way form of communication. The online medium is made for educating in an entertaining way, starting conversations, and engaging your visitors dynamically. Rather than thinking of your website as a poster or brochure, think of it as a lead generating machine.

  • Tailor content to your buyer personas.
  • Offer visitors resources to download.
  • Ask for feedback and gather contact information.

Remember, you website should benefit you just as much as it benefits your visitors (if not more). Merely presenting information may help out interested prospects, but interacting with those prospects online turns them into clients.

Misconception #7 – Stock Images are the Bomb-Dot-Com

Hire a professional to take photosYou really think your website visitors can’t tell that you downloaded all your images from a stock photo site? You audience is probably a lot smarter than you think.

If you’re under the impression that any random image you can find will suffice, you’ve got to kick that idea to the curb before building your website. Every picture on your site says something about your brand and the products or services you offer. If all you present are posed stock photos of models who clearly don’t even work for your company, you’re giving a false and probably poor impression of your brand’s personality.

Get Personal. Go Professional.

If it’s within your budget, consider hiring a professional photographer to take pictures. Use those photos to add a personalized touch to your site, defeating that detached feel stock photos often emanate.

Don’t Steal Images from Google

That, my friends, is what we call plagiarism. Copying photos from Google images and pasting them into your website is a sure fire way to get your site in trouble. In comparison, stock photos are a better route than risking your reputation by stealing.

Misconception #8 – My visitors don’t want to scroll below the fold.

Content that is “below the fold” of a web page is the content you can’t see until scrolling down. Did you know some websites are purposely built to make visitors scroll to get through all the content? They’re called parallax sites or one-page websites.

Thinking your website visitors will be frustrated if they have to scroll to see any content on your site is just not true. While it is important to keep the navigation bar and key calls-to-action above the fold, don’t feel pressured to squeeze all the information on a single screen view. Scrolling, clicking and moving around is part of what makes a website interactive and engaging for visitors.

Really? Come on now…More Misconceptions En Route

Be on the lookout for the final post in this three part series explaining Common Misconceptions About Web Design.

Did you miss Part 1? Check it out.

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