How to Beat Your Fear of Web Shame

The cause and cure of the illusion of separateness that keeps us from embracing the richness of life.

-Alan Watts The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (public library)

Simply put, “web shame” is when you avoid giving out your web address if someone asks for it.

You’ve fallen victim to this feeling if you’ve ever pointed out that you wish your website looked one way, but your designer/developer/cousin/neighbor didn’t understand.

Web shame is also when you feel like your website doesn’t represent you. When you can’t stare at it for more than five minutes without making disapproving gestures.

The point is, web shame should be just avoided at all cost.  You should not suffer from it!

Your website is the public face of your business. It runs 24/7 year-round, and can be seen by anyone. It’s the place where your visitors will understand what you have to offer, how you can help them, why they should care about you and how they can connect and learn more from you.  Your website is the place where we can make people care about us, love us and follow us.

I don’t want you to think that web shame is only about visual appeal and that you might be cured from it by simply changing a color. It’s much more than that.

Take one step back and think about your brand message and what you have to offer.  Your message needs to make clear why people should care about you and why you’re the best option out of the thousands out there to fill their curiosities and needs.

Branding and Message.  

Since we’re not thinking about how to improve the aesthetics of your website, you need to be honest with yourself and decide if your message is really clear, if you are communicating exactly what you expect people to know and if your audience is understanding it.

Branding is more than the layout and what colors you use, it’s also about how you deliver your message and connect with your audience (tweet this!).  It’s the amplifier of your message, the ambassador.

Once you have a clear message and a strong brand that communicates it, you’re half way to the web shame cure.

What works for others, might not work for you.

I might even say “it won’t work for you”, but this is a bold statement, so lets keep it in a nice shade of grey.

We all have websites we love and admire and wished ours looked like it.  If I asked you for 10 websites you love, you could come up with half of that list in one minute.  But instead of trying to look like them, how about we try to understand why we love them, why we come back and why we want ours to look that way.  Is it the experience?  Is it the color? Is it the witty copy? The beautiful photos?  What is that you like about each of those sites that makes you love them?

List all of the different parts and components you really admire and like from each of these sites, print them out and put them in a board. Imagine how your user will find your website and what they will do next.  What do you see?  Is there a way your message can be delivered this way?  Are all of these elements helping out?  Do you need less?

For each element you discard or for each element you add, think of your visitor and how easy you’re letting him or her find you, get to know you and ultimately become a loyal follower.

Maybe a fullscreen background image doesn’t work well for you because you’re not going to use high resolution images.  Maybe a video on your homepage is not how you can deliver your message in the best way… and so on.

Make your brand shine and let your message come through with minimal elements.

All in all, it may seem like there’s no way out of web shame, but you are definitely capable of developing a strategy to overcome it! By establishing your brand message and determining what features might or might not work for your site, you’re taking the first steps in resolving all of your issues. Slowly but surely, you too can be proud of your website!


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