Let’s get the new year off to a gently encouraging start, with website advice courtesy of beloved bear Winnie the Pooh and friends!
January 18th marks the birthday of author A.A. Milne, so I looked up some famous Pooh quotes. I was surprised to find several nuggets of wisdom that apply beautifully to your website project.
Watch as a video, if you prefer, here:
Or see below for the written article.
10 Pieces of Website Wisdom from Winnie the Pooh
There are some affiliate links in this post. This means if you purchase any of these services, I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you.
Overcoming technical doubts
“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
This is a famous quote and of course it applies widely in life. But I see too many folk feeling incredibly stuck and overwhelmed by a website project, and that makes me really sad. The truth is, it’s not that hard to create a simple website that looks great and works to win you business.
Make some savvy decisions up front, and be encouraged that website tools are getting easier and easier to use.
“I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I have been.”
—Winnie the Pooh
Sometimes, you need to walk away and choose a radically different approach. The tragedy of WordPress is that a) too many of us got started on it a few years back when it was the only decent option, and b) it’s clunky to use and horribly prone to security weaknesses. At the time of writing, I confess, this site still runs on WordPress, but within the next few weeks I’ll be migrating to Squarespace. And many of my clients are completely happy with the simplicity of Carrd.
In other words, there are now wonderful alternatives available to WordPress. If your WP site is causing you headaches, or you’re paying someone hundreds (thousands?) of dollars a year to “look after it” for you, please do take a look at your other options.
Connecting with your ideal visitor
“The things that make me different are the things that make me, me.”
Intuitively, you understand that it’s not reasonable to expect your work, and your website, to appeal to everyone. Marketing experts now encourage us to go “all in” on showing your unique personality, skills, and attributes on your site, so that you strongly attract your ideal website visitor. And, the other side of that coin, that you actively repel the folks who aren’t a good match for you. Whether you’re a one-person brand or just a bit bigger, it makes sense to think carefully about who your ideal visitor is, and how you can best make an instant connection with them.
“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”
Don’t get caught up in the previous Piglet quote and assume your website is all about you. No: it should, in fact, focus far more on the visitor and their needs. Remember each page should have a clear Call to Action, and keep in mind the effects of color psychology, too.
“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like, ‘What about lunch?’”
—Winnie the Pooh
Excellent website advice here: use short, simple words, make them easy to skim, and keep your menu words brief and obvious, too. Quick tip: count the number of times you use “you” versus “I” in your wording. Your website is more effective when you make your visitor the focus of your attention.
- My Website Planning Power Pack ($) contains a copywriting workbook and home page templates, showing you what to place where.
- Why your greatest strength is also your weakness. (free article)
Building your audience
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
—Winnie the Pooh
I get asked all the time about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It’s a vast topic and although there’s lots you can and should do to make it more likely your website gets found, what worries me about the preoccupation with SEO is the mistaken belief that if we jump through the right hoops to impress Google, then new business simply falls into our lap. I firmly believe, as a small business, you must take the bulk of the responsibility for being “found”. That means proactive tactics to get in front of new eyes, and to connect with your ideal audience where they’re already active online.
Pooh is quite right: don’t just create an amazing website and wait for visitors to arrive.
- The advice in 8 things to do instead of blogging helps you take steps (and adjust your mindset) to make sure you get found by new people (free article)
“It’s so much more friendly with two.”
I’m going to assume that Piglet knows all about email marketing, and that he’s advocating here for the benefits of getting permission from your new website friends to keep in touch with them. That means they sign up for your email list, most likely in return for a useful free resource that provides a quick solution to a problem (or need) your visitor has.
- I just moved my email list to ConvertKit and am absolutely loving its ease of use and flexible sign up forms ($)
- For a free option when you’re getting started, Mailchimp is still a strong choice (free or paid)
- See here for examples of the resources I offer, in exchange for an email address (free)
“What’s wrong with knowing what you know now and not knowing what you don’t know until later?”
—Winnie the Pooh
It’s certainly true that if you worry about your entire website project before you take a tiny first step, you’ll probably get overwhelmed and do nothing. While Pooh advocates for one step at a time, I suggest the same thing, but with a bit of savvy research thrown in.
- How to evaluate advice you read online (free article)
- 10 questions to ask your website designer (free article)
- 45 Step Website Checklist (free article)
“If the string breaks, then we try another piece of string.”
I already mentioned the importance of using the right technology for your website, and suggested you walk away from WordPress or your existing platform, if necessary. Chances are, you’ll need other tools for your online business, and it can be daunting to evaluate them all.
- Angel Rated is a fabulous site, featuring product reviews by and for online business owners (free)
- My list of 33 favorite website and business tools (free)
“Rivers know this: There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
—Winnie the Pooh
A new website is a big undertaking. Even as an expert, I spend dozens of hours on a custom website project. If you’re working on your own, keep your website as simple as you can, and know you can improve or expand it later. Take some of the pressure off yourself by launching a “minimum viable” site and know that done is always better than perfect.
- My self-paced Website Course shows you step by step how to build and launch a simple site (free)
- Remember: something is better than nothing (free article)
- Hire me to take care of it. Learn more about full service website design and see why previous clients are glad they put their website in my hands.
Estimates suggest Milne wrote Winnie the Pooh 95 years ago. I’m intrigued and charmed to see how these lovable creatures, and the advice they gave each other, remain so relevant for life today.
What’s your favorite Pooh saying?