Website Myths: 6 Things You Believe About Your Website That Hurt Your Business

Last updated:

Website myths. Things that you believe about your website that aren’t true.

Why should we talk about it?

Because those myths are constraints that hold your website and your business back and bestow on you:

  • Confusion: “Why am I not getting any sales?”
  • Disappointment: “I thought if I do XYZ, I’ll be getting sales!” and
  • Overwhelm: “I don’t understand it and I don’t know what to do”

True story. You may be feeling confused, disappointed and overwhelmed just because you expect things from your website that it simply can’t guarantee you.

Let’s look at 6 such website myths aka misconceptions and see if we can get you some clarity on where you stand and what you need to do.

Website Myth #1:
Once you have a great website, you’ll be getting sales

Possible results: Major disappointment

Build a website, they said. And your customers will come, they said.

They lied.

For your customers to come to your website, they need to know it exists. Which means:

  • either you start ranking in search for the relevant terms (which is impossible for a brand new site / a website with only 5 pages / a website with lots of low-quality content / a website that’s not optimized for search),
  • run pay-per-click campaigns (which is expensive and will get you visitors only while you’re paying),
  • or do some other magic to actively attract people to your website (for ex., leaving fliers in your neighborhood, networking offline, speaking at conferences).

This is the most painful truth website owners have to swallow:

After you spent months in days and thousands in dollars creating your website, you haven’t reached the finish line where you get a trophy made of sales and inquiries. You just bought yourself running shoes and took a position at the starting line.

The main work of attracting and converting prospects is still ahead of you.

What to do next

For starters, read this post that will show you a 4-step process to get people to buy your product (even if no one knows you) and give you an overview of what it takes to drive business through your website once you’ve built it.

4-step process to get people to buy your product
Click here to see all of it

Website Myth #2:
You misunderstand your sales funnel and expect first-time visitors to buy

Possible results: You don’t understand why you have website traffic but no sales (yet).

Is this how you see your sales funnel?

Misconstruction about content marketing
That’s not how marketing works (from brilliant deck by Rand Fishkin “Why Content Marketing Fails”)

Do you expect people to click on your tweet or stumble over you in search and buy the first time they visit your website? Because it many cases, it’s not how it works.

THIS is how online marketing works:

How online marketing works
This is how online marketing works (from the same brilliant slideshare by Rand)

Which means, if you have a relatively new site, even if your web design and copy are good, the sales won’t come (yet).

What to do

First, adjust your expectations. Your online business won’t see sales yet, and that’s ok. But you need to start working to see the sales in the future and consider every visit a possibility to make them remember you, earn trust and maybe even a fan.

Regarding concrete steps, I have the same advice for you as in #1: Educate yourself on what it takes to get people to buy from you and make a plan on how you’d like to achieve that.

If you’re a knowledge-based small business owner who’s planing to use content marketing to drive business, this could be your plan for the next 6 months:

No-nonsense content marketing strategy for a small business website
Click here to see all of it

Website Myth #3:
Good website + ads = success

Possible results: Even larger disappointment.

This is another painful heart breaker. The website seems fine. The PPC campaign is running. But there are no sales.

Why? Where’s that copywriter / web designer who made that website? It must be their fault!

Hold your horses.

Unless you’re a very small business (for example, a freelancer with a super focused offer), your offer solves many problems. But one particular visitor is looking to solve only 1-2 of them at a time.

Example: You have an ecommerce website and sell a face cream that:

  • soothes sunburns
  • soothes generally irritated skin
  • is a great daily moisturizer because it’s super rich in green tea.

But when you select an audience to target, you usually select specific keywords (on AdWords) or interestgroups (on Facebook) that indicate specific intent.

In our example, you’d have multiple ad groups that target people who’re looking for sunburn relief, moisturizer for sensitive skin and daily green tea moisturizer separately.

Yet, once a prospect lands on your homepage or even a product page, they may not recognize that your solution is for them.

Why? Because those web pages describes all possible benefits your product has.

As a result, you won’t see many conversions, despite the fact that your product is a great fit.

How to see better results from PPC campaigns

If you tried sending paid traffic to your homepage or a product page and the results weren’t the best, you most likely need separate landing pages built specifically for every ad group of your PPC campaign that match the narrow focus of the separate search intent.

In our example, you’d need 3 separate landing pages, each focusing on one specific benefit of the product that corresponds to a certain ad group aka search intent.

Not sure how to decide where to run your ads and what the difference between AdWords and Facebook ads is? Give this a read: “Which is better: Facebook ads or Google AdWords?”.

Bottom line: Make your website a hub for repeating visitors or visitors who have time and motivation to learn more about your products, but give the searchers who’re ready to buy the best and the most succinct version of your product pages that fit their intent like a glove.

Website Myth #4:
You need a super modern website

Possible results: Spending more money on your website than necessary. Expensive website that is a bad fit for your target audience. Wasting lots of time constantly tweaking the design of your website hoping to move the needle.

Your website isn’t supposed to be a piece of art. Nor is it supposed to showcase the latest web design trends.

Sure, your website shouldn’t be ugly. But in the first place, your visitors should be able to:

  • easily recognize what’s important
  • read without distractions
  • mentally filter out elements that aren’t body text (headings, CTAs).

Plus (have you heard?), the simple websites are scientifically better.

Unfortunately, every second client that comes to me for a website review tells me that they paid a professional web designer to create that masterpiece I then take apart in my reviews.

How to make sure your beautiful website is functional

It really sucks that you can’t trust a web designer to create not only beautiful but also functional website that converts.

But if you want to be sure your website isn’t just pretty but also doesn’t kill your message and delivers a smooth user experience, you have to educate yourself to be able to properly assess the work of your web designer.

You don’t have to know how to design a website yourself (although it’s a bonus if you do) but as a business owner, you have to know the basics of what makes or breaks a website.

This article on 20 most common business website mistakes will give you 20 things to look out for to make sure your web designer and copywriter have done a good job, and your website visitors will love your website as much as you do.

Website Myth #5:
Your website should have all the features those other websites also have

Possible results: You fail to stand out among your competitors. You adopt bad practices because your competitors have no idea what they’re doing.

They say comparison is a killer of joy. In case of websites, comparison can be also a killer of your business.

Sometimes, I ask a client why they have a certain element on their page, and they say it’s because all these other websites have it, too.

A valid argument?

Consider this example: Studies show that those header carousels don’t work (and just an fyi, neither do testimonial or client logo carousels). In particular, your visitors fail to absorb the info they present.

“But Amazon’s website has a carousel!”

Sure, but Amazon:

  • Don’t need to explain what they do
  • Have millions of returning visitors who know how the site works
  • Use the carousel as an ad banner for new offers.

And you:

  • Need to explain what you do
  • Have many new visitors who’ve never heard of you
  • Use your carousel to communicate important things.

See my point?

How not to let comparison kill your business

People shop / hire by comparison. And you should definitely check out your competitors’ websites to see how you can win it.

But you should only compare your website to the websites that:

  • are in the same niche
  • belong to a business of the same size
  • have similar target audience and business model
  • solve similar problems.

…and also be clear about reasons why you want that thing on your website.

A good reason not to compare at all: You can’t be sure other website owners know what they’re doing (because if your competitor has a carousel on their website, there’s a high chance they don’t).

Your chances to win valuable insights from comparing your website to others are higher if you look at websites with high traffic that represent “the future you”. The owners of those websites usually A/B test things, and their web design choices reflect the real preferences of their target audience.

Website Myth #6:
Your website copy must “do storytelling”

Possible results: You use storytelling on your website for the sake of it not paying attention to the basics.

A client emailed me the other week. I redesigned and rewrote her website, but she won’t getting any sales.

“Gill”, she said, “I read this book by Mr. Important Guy, and he said that I should turn the customer into the hero and be their guide showing them how my product will fix their own problems. Are we doing that?”

“Ann”, I said, “I don’t think about it in these terms. I start with figuring out what your prospects know about their problems and possible solution and then create the copy based on what we need to tell them so that they’ll buy.”

“It may or may not involve storytelling, but storytelling for the sake of it isn’t the right approach.”

“In our case”, I said adopting a client’s projects as my own once again, “No storytelling will help get more sales. The problem is that your prospects don’t understand why they should buy a no-name product with no real reviews…

…if they can buy a product that promises the same things from Amazon, a trusted seller that also provides dozens of trustworthy reviews.”

Ann launched a product that was supposed to be superior to what was already on the market. But a PPC campaign showed that the prospects needed more than her own words to believe that it works.

“We need a video explainer, trustworthy reviews, before / after photos or a comparison table. Not tweaking existing copy or adding a story layer on top of that”.

What to do before bringing up storytelling

Before you even think of storytelling, you need to figure out what your website visitors know about their problems and existing solution, and what they need to know to take you up on your offer.

Stages of awareness of your prospects
Stages of awareness of your prospects and what your copy should communicate on every stage

Then, look at your website and try to figure out what’s missing.

Do they understand what you offer?

Can they see the benefits?

Is there enough proof that your solution works?

Ann, by the way, bought competitor products and is currently conducting an experiment comparing her product to theirs. Because no storytelling can help you sell if you can’t explain to your prospects why they should buy from you.

Final words of wisdom

Once your website is live, it’s certainly time to celebrate but it’s not the time to lay back and expect people to start throwing money at you. Your journey to sales and inquiries has just begun.

Your prospects won’t find you if you don’t make an effort to show them the way.

They won’t buy if they can’t understand what you offer, why they should buy from you, don’t trust you or hate how difficult your website design makes it find what they need.

Your website won’t become a success after you read some posts with “tips and tricks”, despite of what those blog posts promise.

The sooner you realize what it takes to drive business to your website, the sooner you can make it happen or find the right people who can help you do that.

3 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Progressive disclosure instead of carousels…

    Hello Gill, I’d love to know what you think of carousels that only move when you click the next arrow.
    And accordions for FAQs etc.
    These can reduce clutter but make more information available for the people who want it.
    What do you think, good, bad or it depends?

    1. Hi there Philip, and thank you for your questions.

      The most accurate answer to any website related question is always “it depends”. But I can try and answer your questions in terms of how it will work in most of the cases.

      Re sliders that only move when clicked:

      Theoretically, they are better than those that move uncontrollably. But practically, they won’t help you convey your message better. You’re asking the users to make an extra effort to see the following entries of a carousel, and many users just won’t do it. So, your carousel will practically have the same effect as a static image because overwhelming majority of people will see only its first entry.

      Bottom line: If there is important info hidden in those carousel entries, it’s better to “uncarousel” it and display it openly so that it can be accessed and seen by simple scrolling.

      Re accordions for FAQs:

      That’s actually not a bad idea. Although your visitors will have to make an effort to uncover new info, similarly to the carousels that require to be clicked on, in this case they’re very motivated to do so because they want to learn an answer to a particular question (unlike in the case of “click carousels” where they don’t know what the next entry will bring, so have no motivation to click).

      I personally saw FAQs accordions work well on clients’ websites. One cool thing I recently saw done here is to expand the first entry to make the accordion section impossible to miss and to make it instantly clear how it works.

      Hope this helps.