How the Light Gets In: Stop Pursuing Website Perfection
Long before anyone dreamed of a virtual world called the internet, Leo Tolstoy wrote, “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”
But surely, he was speaking to every person who would ever design a website.
If I can convince you to do anything at all in the next 500 words, it will be to stop delaying your next website innovation or development in the interest of having it better, or closer or done. Your website will never, should never, be done.
It’s a hard habit to break though. In the not-so-distant past, the result of all marketing content was print, tape or film. There was a point at which it had to be produced, and at that juncture, it had to be perfect. There are few things more aggravating than to see typos on a billboard, or to recognize lost opportunity when listening to a radio spot.
This drive for perfection in marketing materials has carried over into website development, and it is leaving money on the table. I’m not saying to post typo-laden, poorly designed pages with improperly formatted images. That’s not the message here. But somewhere in-between perfection and calamity, preferably closer to excellent than fair, should be your goal.
Here are the reasons for – and benefits of – shifting your perspective on website perfection:
Your website should never be done. Like product selection, customer outreach and wiping the hand-prints off your cases, a website should be in a constant state of movement and improvement. It should feel like the inside of your store – not the inside of a brochure. When your website is a place of perpetual refreshing, it becomes an interesting place to visit and return to.
A website that is created, then remains static for the next few years, is a dud as far as search engines are concerned. Search engines evaluate website content on the following criteria: recency of new information, frequency of changes and additions, and relevance of the content to your target audience. A blog and regular new product introductions can do wonders for those variables, but they are not enough. The rest of your website content should be changing too. All your pages should be evolving all the time.
Every day you delay is a day you can’t get back. Consider the jewelry company that discovered that the bounce rate from its homepage was unacceptably high. A new homepage design was created, then discussed, then redesigned again. Eight months later, they loaded a new homepage. That represented eight months of damage to their search engine credibility and performance. Almost any redesign of the homepage would have been better than the one they had – the one that was causing the high bounce rate. And if they didn’t like the homepage design they first launched, then tweaking it several times over the next few months would have actually helped their search engine optimization.
Perhaps the best advice is for you to stop thinking of your website as a creative product, and start thinking about it as a creative process. By all means, spell the words correctly. Use good grammar. Choose beautiful photographs and format them appropriately. Just don’t wait for it to be perfect.
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.”
― Leonard Cohen
This article was contributed by GCS 2022 speaker Andrea M Hill