What does your website say about you?

First impressions count

For most businesses, an online presence is the first thing a client will see. First impressions count and when you have only seconds to convince a potential client that you're worth a closer look, you need to make every second worth their while.

Most people are more design saavy than we give them credit for. We are, after all, surrounded by design all day in everything we do, from looking at a well-designed smartphone, to noticing a striking ad at the bus stop, to admiring your morning coffee cup and the funky new wallpaper in the office meeting rooms. You know when things look good — even when you're not really paying attention. You also know when things look bad — and you always notice the bad.

Badly designed websites suffer from one or more of the following problems that you may have seen around the interwebs:

  • Old fashioned layout that is out of touch with today's web standards
  • Fixed layout that is not responsive on mobile
  • Boring/dated or pixelated graphics
  • Text that is difficult to read
  • No clear indication of what the business does
  • No call to action helping you find the solution to what you're looking for.

A bad website can do far more harm to your business than no website at all. Think about your own first impressions when you come across a website that is dated, unintuitive and full of ads — your confidence wobbles, your trust is lost and you go elsewhere. Where you end up is generally with a business that at least looks like they know what they're doing.

In short, bad websites lose you in an instant and you've got too much going on to spend time working them out.

"You had me at hello"

A well-designed website, on the other hand, lets your audience know who you are. It conveys professionalism, trust, purpose and intent. At a glance, you know what the business does, how they do it, and what they can do for you. You feel more of a connection to the business and actively want to use them.

Data has shown that the design of your website speaks directly to your credibility. The folks at Stanford's Persuasive Technology Lab conducted a Web Credibility Research Project a few years back. This data is a bit dated, but the numbers show that 46.1% of respondents believe that design is the main criteria for assessing a company's credibility [1]. Remember now, that good design is more than just a beautiful product. Good design is strategy, communication and a deep link with your audience and their experience.

The main features of well-designed websites:

  • Contemporary layout that is clean and easy to read
  • Instantly communicate what they do
  • Responsive design that looks great on all of your devices — desktop, tablet, mobile
  • Relevant, sharp and clear graphics that display beautifully on high resolution retina screens as well as on your phone
  • Clear call to actions so you know what to do next
  • Highly visible contact details for you to get in touch without searching.

If your website hits all of these design sweet spots, you are going to pick up all the potential clients those other sites are losing. With over 570 websites launching online every minute, you need to do everything you can to beat the competition. And having a site that speaks to your audience and tells them who you are is the most strategic and cost-effective way of achieving that. Set it up once and your site will keep delivering for you 24/7. That's the real advantage of an effective website.

How does your website measure up?

Is your site doing everything it can to woo your next client? Or is there room for improvement? If you have Google Analytics (or analytics of any kind) installed, have a look to see what your conversion rate is and what your bounce rate is. If you aren't measuring these yet, start. Having metrics to hand is the best way is monitor your site performance and will help you see the difference every small change makes. Both your conversion rate and your bounce rate will tell you a lot about what happens when people land on your website. Do they get outta there fast? Are they converting into paying clients? If so, how many of them are converting? 1 in 100? Less?

"Build it and they will come"

If first impressions are losing you clients, fixing the problem doesn't have to be painful. There is a lot you can do to encourage the people who come to your site to stay and hang out for a while. If you lose them at the door, they'll never move to the next step and take action.

Open up your website and look at it with a new lens. Does it instantly communicate who you are and what you do? Is it intuitive to navigate? Does it look professional and up-to-date? Have a closer look at what your website is doing for you by downloading our FREE Checklist for Websites that Convert. This list will guide you through 12 small changes that will make a big difference. Convert more visitors into clients and make 2018 your best year yet.

    References

    1. Web Credibility Research, Stanford University Persuasive Technology Lab

    This article was written by Nicole Sidoti, Founder and Creative Director of Popdot Media. Nic has top tier design experience and has built a business from the ground up. Nic's been where you are and has loads of tips and advice on how to effectively grow your business.

    Contact Nic today: n.sidoti@popdotmedia.com or call 0478 115 243. 

    Photo by Ben Kolde on Unsplash