Common Obstacles That Prevent You From Designing Your Own Website

You know you need a website, it’s why you’re reading this post.

You know your website is the foundation that connects everything else you do online.

Whether you’re creating a podcast, online courses, publishing a book, or fundraising, your website connects everything together and organizes your efforts.

It’s your calling card. It’s what you share with people who are looking to get more involved in what you do.

For people who don’t know you, it influences their first impression of you – tells them what you stand for.

I remember a conversation with an herbalist who spent hours working on her website, but it never felt like a good representation of her vision. It felt disorganized, cluttered, and unclear.

By the time I talked with her she was ready to give up on it altogether. It seemed like everybody had different advice and she was never quite sure if she was headed down the right path.

Can you relate?

I’ve been there, my clients have been there – you’re certainly not alone.

Unfortunately, many people get so overwhelmed with their website that it gets in the way of them succeeding in the business.

So here’s the good news.

These obstacles that come up are all overcomeable (we’re making up words now). They come up again and again – and one of the core values of Maple Creative is this idea that everything is fixable.

Always a problem, always a solution

So today I’m going to break down WHAT these obstacles are, and HOW you can overcome them.

Want to see today’s post in a more compact manner? Check out our Overcoming Web Design Obstacles Cheatsheet!

Using the Wrong Platform

The most common obstacle is the myriad of “free” and “easy” website platforms available. If they worked, well you wouldn’t be looking at other options.

I put “free” and “easy” in quotes because nothing is free. There is always a catch, whether it’s advertising that only your readers see, or a platform that decides to close up shop without giving you a chance to move your website.

The “easy” platforms tend to be a big distraction, and people spend hours learning skills they will never be able to apply when it’s time to have a more professional, self hosted website further down the road.

Any website you have requires some learning – whether you build it yourself or hire an expensive agency. Spending time learning the wrong platform, one that will only limit what you can do in the future, is a costly mistake.

Shame Around Tech Skills

Herbalists, cider makers, non-profit directors, dance instructors (the kind of folks I work with) are not using web design skills in their day to day work – so it’s ridiculous for them to feel bad when they get stuck on their website.

But they do.

Before I specialized in design, I would spend hours (days even) working on a problem that would take Juan or Krista  only 5 minutes to solve. I felt obligated to power-through, but this left me more frustrated than when I started. Finally, I realized it was better to stay true to my craft as a designer, and hire a web developer to help me during the final phase of a project.

The important thing is to learn enough to explain your vision to a professional who can help you achieve it. Achieving a baseline knowledge of how a well designed website is able to grow an audience and create revenue.

Not Being Able to Explain Your Ideas

It’s frustrating to have a clear vision in your head that you can’t explain to someone else.

Learning how to delegate, especially when it comes to creative work, is one of the hardest things we need to learn.

I find that when people say a lack of tech skills, they really mean a lack of technical literacy. There’s a difference.

Most people don’t want to learn to code or program to make their websites work. And honestly, they don’t need to. Instead, they need to learn how to talk about it – how to explain their vision to someone who can help them draft a plan, design a website to achieve it.

Technical literacy is kind of like knowing what food to order on a huge menu…

Taking the time to learn some basic marketing strategy and design skills will not only help you clarify your own work, but will enable you to work with a designer to achieve your goals.

Most people want the ability to make small changes to their website, like changing the header, a font, cosmetic things, and have a professional take care of the code, the programming, the really technical stuff. But even that can feel overwhelming if you don’t know how to explain what you need done.

When you’re ready, consider hiring a web designer that will help you understand how to make these changes without horribly overcharging you. Designers who offer cares plans will also educate you on how to best work with them. This also means they are aware of their own needs and abilities, which is a good sign that they’re able to deliver on their promise.

Knowing what you want and being able to communicate it gives you control over your website without feeling like you have to learn to do everything from scratch.

Information Overload

Every web designer, coder, programmer, and content creator will have different ideas on how you should and shouldn’t do things. If you follow random advice from a bunch of different places you’ll probably have a mismatched website. It won’t do anything well because you’re trying to do too much with it.

Instead, pick one resource and stick to that. Look for a someone you would enjoy learning from or working with and stick with them.

For example, I started listening to Level Up Your Course podcast hosted by Janelle Allen. I loved the show, and eventually enrolled in her online program to help get my own course off the ground. I had been trying to creat a course for years but I kept running into barriers. Working with Janelle gave me the clear steps I needed to get it done.

I turn to online courses on a regular basis as I realize my vision for Maple Creative, and It’s amazing. I look for people whose work I respect then do everything they suggest.

If you try something that doesn’t work, or you don’t like it, you can always come back and change your website with a different resource once you’ve already got something up. The important thing is not to get caught up in research and instead start doing something. It’s better to have a modest website to get your name in front of people than to have no website.

Mismatch Between Services and Site Quality

When it comes to building your brand, your website is the first thing most people encounter. It’s going to influence their opinion on you as a person and the services your business provides.

You’re an expert in what you have to offer. But if you don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to web design, that expertise isn’t going to show through. People won’t take you seriously, and could very well leave before giving you a chance. It’s frustrating to know what image you want to present to the world, and yet be unable to do so.

With this in mind, it’s easy to get discouraged. In fact, this may be the very reason you’ve given up on trying to get your website together. You can’t put together the vision you have for your services and have it translate to your site.

This is one of those places where hiring someone who is an expert can help you. Sure, you can piece together a basic website. But that’s not going to convey what you have to offer accurately. That’s not going to show the world your brand.

You don’t have to be ready for this step just yet. Just know that hiring an expert who’s done this for dozens of clients before can help your potential audience see what you have to offer and see you as you want to be seen.

Overambitious Design

Web design obstacles

With so many options, it’s easy to over do it. Instead of starting with the basics, it can be tempting to create a website with dozens of features, simply because they’re there

That’s too ambitious. If you’re getting caught up on including too many features, you’re never going to get your website  in front of readers to see what is actually working and not working.

I have one client whose website has been ready for over a year, but it’s still not published because they’re always adding things.

As a web designer, it doesn’t feel right to sit here and watch you pay me to postpone you getting your name out there. It’s better to have something simple that addresses your immediate capacity than something that’s too overreaching and leaves you overwhelmed as soon as it launches.

Your website is a constantly changing organism. You can always add things as you grow as a business. No matter how much polishing you put into it now, it’s going to look different in a year. It’s better to get it out there.

Consider building a website in a day. It’s simple, but it does what you need it to do, which is to promote your services and explain to potential clients what you do. That’s it. That’s all you need to start. Everything else can be added at a later date when you’re ready for it.

Your website is a constantly changing organism. You can always add things as you grow as a business.

Previous Failure

Chances are good that you’ve tried putting together a website before. But it didn’t turn out how you expected. Or it didn’t get traffic. Or any number of things happened that weren’t what you wanted.

Maybe now that you’re trying again, you feel like that failure is going to happen again, no matter what you do. Perhaps you tried the “easy to use” Squarespace or Wix website builder, but it didn’t make sense. But the ads said they were supposed to be easy, so that must mean there’s something wrong with me, right?

No. Those platforms give you too many options without giving you communication as to what those options do. It’s not easy if you don’t have a guide.

One of the best ways to overcome this obstacle is to realize there are dozens of reasons why your website failed before. That doesn’t guarantee you’re going to fail now, especially if you approach it from a different angle.

Want to take these obstacles and solutions with you in a more compact way? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive our Overcoming Web Design Obstacles cheatsheet.

If you don’t feel like you can overcome these obstacles, that’s okay. I created web care plans to help guide you through these obstacles and help take care of your needs.

Tags: business, web design obstacles, website
Ryan Clover

Ryan Clover

Designer and founder of Maple Creative, providing technical wizardry for activists, educators. and small business owners who are out to change the world.