Warning, this post might offend some. It’s “one of those” posts. I am not one to sugar coat things, so if you are already thinking this post is going to make you mad – here is a link for you instead:
I can’t begin to tell you how often we hear “everyone says my website looks great” or “I get compliments all the time on our website”. If you are thinking your website is working because your friends, family or clients said so, I want to ask you: Do you think someone would tell you that your site is a usability nightmare or that it looks like it was designed by a chimp? Probably not.
Your friends won’t tell you your website sucks, your colleagues won’t tell you, heck, even your competition won’t tell you what’s wrong with your website. The reason why they won’t tell you are simple:
Friends & family don’t want to hurt you. And your competitors do.
Although we see this all the time, I am taking a recent real-life example from Facebook – not to put this person in the spotlight, but to illustrate how this usually plays out.
This person recently started a business and decided to pool her friends to ask what they think of her new website.
I actually went to her site and right away noticed several major problems, but with writing this post in the back of my mind, I thought I would let the conversation play its course. So, what do you think her friends said in response to her question? You guessed it:
No pointers or tips, no “your site takes forever to load” or “your fonts are extremely hard to read” or even “some of your links are broken” — just “good job”. Which is what you might expect from friends and family in this scenario.
And to be fair – I will say that the person I’m mentioning here did do some things really well and spent a great deal of time building this website. While a part of me wants to say “that’s awesome”, the rational side says “that’s not a smart way for a business owner to spend their time (unless they are starting a web design business)”.
What’s your website worth?
A website is an extremely important business asset and in some cases it’s the most important asset a business has. When businesses place little, to no value in their web presence – it shows; both to average people and industry buffs alike. When you decide to build a DIY website for $59 or have your nephew make something because he’s on summer break – you are doing yourself a huge disservice. And guess what? Your friends, family, clients and just about anyone else who knows you, won’t tell you.
The days of throwing up a website and forgetting about it are gone. Doing that, is going to leave you in your competitor’s dust. DIY websites are great for nothing – and I’m not saying that because I happen to own a web design company; I’m saying that because you get what you pay for; and on top of that, with a DIY website, you are using your time to try and figure out what your website should be doing, how it should work and why. A website that doesn’t bring you business, is a waste of space.
How are you getting an understanding of whether your website works or not?
If pooling friends and family is the only way you are getting an understanding of how your website is working, you’re missing the boat. You would be better off sitting in Starbucks with a handful of $5 bills asking strangers to look at your site – at least then you “might” get some honest opinions. Better yet, get your website analyzed by an expert and let them tell you where you are missing opportunities. Many web design / internet marketing companies, ours included, will actually perform a quick website analysis as part of an initial consultation.
There are ways to learn the cold (sometimes hard) facts about your website and how you might improve it. But if you don’t want to truth, you can always ask your “friends” 😉