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Your website is not a ‘shop window’. When you dig into it a little you see that it’s a flawed analogy that can easily lead people to draw the wrong conclusions and make the wrong assumptions about their websites.
In the latest vlog in our ‘Web design is broken’ series our CEO Aaron explores how he thinks we should let go of the shop window analogy and start building a new model for thinking about websites.
Watch the full vlog below and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Web design is broken. Ok so today I feel like this is almost like a public service announcement and it’s something that has really been bugging me about this industry ever since well really like day dot. That thing is the shop window analogy.
You’ve all heard, you’ve all been sold it. Your website it’s like your shop window. Whoever came up with this as an analogy, ok it might have been a little bit right back in the late nineties but it’s been wrong for at least a decade now.
It’s like this and myth that I just want to destroy, I want it gone because it leads people to make the wrong conclusions about their websites. The problems that I have with it that, for a start are this. When you take the shop window approach to web design what often happens is that you forget that if a website was a shop then it wouldn’t just have one shop window, it would have multiple shop windows.
It would have a shop window for pretty much everything you sell in that shop. People often forget to make that point because people don’t always enter your website through the homepage it’s typically if they know who you are and they’re looking directly for you they’ll land on your homepage or unless you’ve got such good optimisation on your homepage that you appear in wider, non branded searches. So often though you’ll find that if you write long-form content about I don’t know something that your customers, your prospects care about that will be one of the most visited pages.
We’ve done some work with a charity recently, they have quite a lot of traffic even though they had Google Analytics on their website, they didn’t really understand how to make sense of it. So they thought that well because the website isn’t quite performing in the ways that we wanted to it’s probably to do with our homepage. We sat down with them and we looked at their Google Analytics and we said hey look your homepage could be improved yeah great but this blog article that you wrote
back in 2002 that is by far and away the most visited page on your website. That for all intents and purposes is your home page.
Now the shopfront analogy completely just does away with that and it’s wrong. Another thing that the shop front analogy fails to recognise is that you need a lot more than just a pretty shop front to actually engage and attract people to your business. So often what happens is that company’s, web design companies focus so hard on that shop window, on that shop front that someone’s walking down the high street and they look to their right and they go oh well isn’t that a pretty shop window and it has some things in there that I might like to buy at one point.
But because so much focus has been put on what the shop front looks like when they get inside is it’s like Primark on December 24th. It’s an absolute mess in there they can’t find that it can’t find an assistant to help them, they don’t know whether fitting rooms are, everything’s badly categorised and organised and they’re like wow I am NOT sifting through this jumble sale. I’ll just go to that place across the road which doesn’t have quite as pretty a shop front but actually at least I can see what the hell is going on in there.
Another thing that the shop front analogy gets wrong, is that only engages one of your senses People don’t just buy things because they look good, they need to touch those things, they need to have personal interactions with those things, create feelings about those things. There needs to be trust that is built. It’s not for most of the businesses that I deal with, which are a
lot of them professional services and things like that.
There’s the whole chain of trust that needs to be built before someone is comfortable enough to even sit down and have that initial conversation with them. And the shop front analogy just doesn’t take into account that there’s trust that needs to be, built knowledge that needs to be shared, there’s a relationships that need to have happen.
Most importantly the shopfront completely fails to address the fact that a really high performing website isn’t just a pretty shop window, it’s a fantastic promotions team out on the high street handing out leaflets, getting people engaged, showing people offers.
Then showing them to the front door going inside, helping their customers, helping the new customers to find what they’re looking for. Then it morphs into a personal shopper and then it’s there at the checkout afterwards going awh have you found everything, add-on sales, things like that and then afterwards it can even help get feedback and make sure that people are happy with their purchase and finding out if there’s any other things that could be done after that.
Your website isn’t like a shopfront, it’s not like anything it is like a website and the success that you have online as a business is really gonna come around from understanding and treating your website like a website and not just a shop front.
My name is Aaron Taylor, I’m helping you to have better conversations, make better decisions when you’re buying a website. Until next time.
This is episode 10 of Web Design is Broken, a series where our CEO Aaron explores the issues with our industry and helps you to make better informed decisions when it comes to your website. Our company, Six Two, specialises in web design in Ashford Kent.
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