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Making a DIY Website? Avoid These 5 Frustrating Mistakes
So you’ve decided to make a website yourself. Whew. It’s a big task to take on.
You might be making a website yourself because you can’t afford to hire someone. Or, the business is your side hustle and you want to make money before you spend money. Maybe you have some web skills and want to try your hand at it. Even though we pride ourselves on making websites affordable and worry-free, we know that every business needs a unique approach.
There are many reasons you might be building your website yourself, and we want to help you avoid some big mistakes so you can flourish. We believe that by lifting each other up, we all rise.
Here are some common mistakes we all make, along with some advice from seasoned professionals.
1. Starting Too Big
You have a vision for your site. You’re off to a great start but it’s important to develop that vision over time when you are just starting out. When you take on too much, everything suffers. Focus on small amounts of high quality content and then grow your site over time.
The other reason to avoid starting too big is because your vision is going to evolve as you evolve. Websites are not destinations, they’re journeys. They reflect who we are now, not who we were a year ago. As our businesses mature, so will our websites.
Our advice is to break your vision down into small, achievable steps. Outline manageable goals, celebrate milestones, and take time to recharge your creativity before moving to the next phase. Enjoying the process is going to fuel you and keep you going for the long haul.
2. Obsessing About the Details
Websites are grand visions executed in a million tiny details. It can be dangerous if you’re a perfectionist, like we are. You look up suddenly and two hours have passed. How have you spent that time? You’ve been trying to nudge a margin 20 pixels to the right. As a service-based business owner, you’ve just lost 2 billable hours. This can be a very expensive detail to obsess over.
It’s frustrating when you want things to look a certain way. Let us reassure you of two things. First, the detail you are obsessing over doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. Second, as your skills improve, it gets easier to make it look the way you want.
Our advice is to take a break. Go for a walk, fold some laundry, or eat a snack. While you are on break, try to take the 10,000 foot view of your site and ask yourself three questions.
- Does this matter as much as I think it does?
- Is there another way to accomplish my goal?
- Can I compromise and get close to where I want so that I can move on?
- Has someone else already figured this out that I can learn from?
3. Sacrificing Clarity for Something Else
The number one goal of a website is to move people as fast as possible from a place of knowing nothing about you to knowing exactly what problem you solve – and you have 10 seconds to do it. What’s the most successful way to do this? Clear, direct language.
Sometimes we sacrifice clarity for some mistaken beliefs:
- We think being clever is more powerful than being clear (it isn’t)
- We think more information is better than less (it isn’t)
- We think being direct is too pushy or aggressive (it isn’t)
- We think our websites are about us and our journey (they aren’t)
Why is it so important to be clear? People are busy, distracted, drained. It takes mental energy to pay attention to what you are trying to tell them. They are willing to expend a little more energy for websites that can solve a problem for them. Just don’t make them work so hard for it. Don’t make them puzzle out what you offer, how to work with you, and how you can help them.
Our advice for greater clarity? Make sure your website can pass the Storybrand Grunt Test by helping someone these three questions within 10 seconds:
- What are you offering them?
- How will it make their life better?
- How do they buy from you?
4. Forgetting the fundamentals that every site needs
Sometimes, we can get obsessed with the latest trends, the bells and whistles, the right cheeky tone to stand out online. We think it will impress people and help them buy from us. Unfortunately, if all you have is flashy without the fundamentals, you might leave an impression but it will fade as soon as someone leaves your site.
Rather than focusing on animations and parallax, make sure your website covers the fundamentals. Starting there will get you far more long-term success.
- Have a solid banner that states exactly what you do and who you do it for
- Have a clear, easy way for people to work with you and repeat this information often
- Give them something of value for free to build trust and authority
- Provide a way for them to contact you for questions and follow-up
- Make sure your site is secure and compliant so people are protected
- Tell them about yourself, tell them your why, let your passion and credentials shine through
5. Comparing Yourself to Others
Looking at other people’s websites for inspiration can jump start your creativity. However, the minute this kind of market research makes you start doubting yourself – stop. Take a breather. Go outside to clear your head.
Comparing your website to others is going to make you question everything. Negative thoughts will start to invade your mind and every little detail will start to seem like a major misstep. Did you use the right font? Are your colors too bland? What about the picture you used – do you look too smug? You’ll wonder if your site is good enough, or worse, you’ll wonder if you are good enough.
This is fear talking and it can paralyze you. The truth is that there will always be someone out there farther along than you are. That’s why you have to remember you have your own natural genius!
Our advice? Remember a simple, direct, and authentic website is all you need when starting out. Use a growth mindset to keep making the fundamentals better. Your website will evolve as you do. Try to enjoy the process. Your skills will mature over time and you will be comfortable doing even more with your site. It doesn’t need to be perfect out of the gate, it just needs to show up and be genuine.