First impressions count for a lot in life. When you’re going for a job interview, you make an effort to look sharp, put on your best suit and comb your hair. We agonise over what perfume to apply when heading out for a first date, and we are taught to smile openly and make eye contact when meeting a client we haven’t met before. This all happens for simple, scientific reasons – our evolutionary biology has an ingrained ‘stay or go’ mentality, and this has led us to making snap decisions within seconds of meeting somebody. It may not be nice or fair to judge so many books by their covers… but we all do it, all the time.
The exact same principle can be, and should be, applied to websites. When a potential customer or client opens your website, they too are going to judge it initially by appearances. As the world gets faster, business becomes more competitive, and now that every company has a site of their own (which probably processes the vast majority of their custom), it has never been more important to have a snappy, good-looking, modern and impressive website.
We’ve all been there – we click on a google link to a site we feel will suit our needs, and we’re immediately faced with gaudy colours, inappropriate fonts, poor formatting or confusing banners and subheading that look as though they belong in the 1990s… and what do we do? We immediately click the ‘back’ button, and choose the next google listing that suits our requirements.
Common and deadly errors
- Keeping up with the Joneses
Probably the biggest error a company can make nowadays, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, is to have a website that seems to belong in the distant past. This is more common that you’d think, and usually comes about due to the owner of the website simply not giving enough thought to what consumers expect, or what impression their website makes on potential customers.
Perhaps the manager rarely visits their own website, and has other priorities. Perhaps they aren’t aware that their site – and therefore, their brand – is outdated and clunky. Perhaps they don’t care, or don’t feel they should care.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of your website
A website is just a tool, just one aspect of a business, isn’t it?
No, it isn’t. Nowadays, a website is your ‘front-of-house’ staff. It’s your virtual reception. It’s the place your potential clients will go to not only to get information about your services and products, but also the ‘feel’ of a company. An outdated website can make a company look out of touch and out of step with the modern business world. It could even look shifty and untrustworthy to those who need to feel safe, should they be making financial transactions through the site. In short, it could be disastrous.
- Keep your customers in the know
Other common (and easily fixable) mistakes also include having few or no updates on the website. Let’s say you have a blog, and when the site was launched, you diligently updated your information and the comings and goings of the company on a regular basis. Over time, you became more relaxed on this front, and the next thing you know, you haven’t posted anything for a year or two. A customer might see this, and (reasonably) presume you’ve gone out of business. Bang. Another paying client goes elsewhere.
- Take Pride
On top of this, a good website, carefully constructed with the customer in mind and which creates a positive image and brand, is a reflection of the care and pride the manager has in their company. If you were invited to someone’s house for dinner, and when you turned up you found that their home was dusty and old, things hadn’t been cleaned or spruced up for years, you’d come to two conclusions: Firstly, that the owner takes no pride in their home, and so cannot expect anyone else to, either, and secondly: I’ll stop at a takeaway on my way home, thanks very much.
Websites operate in much the same way. You want to exude pride and care through the image you set of your company. The easiest way to do that? Get somebody to help you bring your website bang up to date.
New World, New Expectations
The simple fact is that there is more competition than ever before. Companies providing services of all sorts are no longer relying on local customer bases, the old women down the road, or the regular customer who pops in for a chat on their way home from work. Today, companies based in rural England are as much in competition with similar business in London, as they are in Delhi or San Francisco. The internet has connected the world – a great thing for consumers, but a wake up call for the complacent and those slow to catch up. Constructing a decent, approachable and stylish website has never been easier, and there’s no longer any excuse to be left behind.