How-to guides are very useful when it comes to just about anything including website design. They provide tips, advice and suggestions on how to overcome various issues, warn you on things to pay attention to, how to facilitate the process, etc. In addition, they are a great source of ideas and inspiration.
However, it is also important to mention that the usability of most how-to guides is somehow limited and that following a few guides alone will not bring any notable results. This is because:
Your website would get lost in the sea of similar websites. When applying the recommendations of a guide you found on the Internet, it is of key importance to be aware that there are highly likely hundreds, if not thousands, of other people reading and drawing inspiration from the very same guide. And this is especially true for guides that have been written by respected designers and published on highly visited websites. By following such guides, you are thus risking getting lost in the sea of similar websites, with many probably also selling very similar products or services.
Your website visitors probably won’t be impressed. Needless to say, you can’t really expect to benefit from your online presence if you don’t manage to attract the attention of your website visitors. And you probably won’t if you website looks pretty much the same as the competitors’. To catch their eye and encourage them to stay on your website which is the key if you want to make any sales, you need a design that is different, original and attention grabbing. And this something how-to guides don’t offer.
Most how-to guides are too general to be applicable as such. Note that most how-to guides are written to appeal to a broad audience. As broad as possible. As a result, there isn’t much room for individual needs and requirements. In practice this means that most guides are simply too broad and too general to be applicable as such.
No one really tells everything for free. The best designers never reveal their best kept secrets which is perfectly normal. If you could learn everything from how-to guides that can be found for free on the Internet, you wouldn’t really need a professional web designer, would you? By following a how-to guide alone, you thus risk missing potentially serious issues not only because the designers don’t want to reveal everything but also because they can’t. As mentioned above, these guides are extremely general, while specific issues typically require very specific solutions.