Your Ugly Website Needs to Go

(A few weeks ago, we talked about outdated website features that shouldn’t be on your website.  Today, we talk about why it’s so important that your website looks good.  Enjoy.)

In the beginning of the internet, there was darkness.

Upon that darkness, brightly colored text was placed.  And man said “It is not good for this text to be by itself”, so he added low-res pictures, scrolling banners, and gif animations that had nothing to do with the website itself.

And it was…ugly.

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(Don’t worry, this was never actually our site)

It used to be that every website had a black (or really dark) background with white or brightly colored text over it.  Browsing the web felt like you were constantly hanging out in someone’s basement (which was fitting because most of those sites were probably built by some guy in his parents’ basement).

Of course, there were reasons for websites being ugly.  Coding abilities were limited.  In the same way video games once were incapable of 3D, websites couldn’t do smooth gradients, transparent boxes, moving objects, etc.

And everyone was too busy having their minds blown to stop and notice that the internet was ugly.  It didn’t really matter what your website looked like.  It just mattered that you had one.

But we live in a much different world now.

We live in a society that is starting to base their life decisions off what they see on the internet.  Whether that’s a good thing or not, what they see online will mostly affect the chances of them using your business.

To the majority of potential customers out there, your website is the first impression of your business that they have.  It is your store front.  It doesn’t matter what type of business or organization you might be.

If someone is looking for your services, finds your website, and finds it to be mediocre, they will pass that opinion directly onto your business.

According to a study done by Missouri University of Science and Technology, it takes a person less than two-tenths of a second to form an opinion about your brand when they visit your website.  It takes another 2.6 seconds for the eyes to fully adjust and respond to that impression.

If it’s not a good impression, the visitor will probably leave and move on to the next site.

In other words, it’s not enough to just have a website anymore.  You need a good looking website, one that’s functional, that establishes your brand, and let’s visitors know how you can help them and why they should choose you.

When someone hits your homepage, you have about 10 seconds to lure them in or lose them forever.

Is that fair?  It doesn’t matter.

That’s how it is.

A Parable of Two Furniture Websites

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(photo credit: Amgad Fahmi)

A man was looking for a furniture store.  After a quick Google search, he found two stores in his area.

The first store he found had a website with two colors,  some scrolling text from the 90s, and some lifeless filler text that he could barely read because it didn’t mesh with the background.

The second store had a very aesthetically pleasing homepage with a direct call to action, a list of the furniture they had, and a personable presence.  After reading a few lines, the man could tell that these people are fun, helpful, and inviting.

Naturally, the man chose the second store.  But that’s not the end of this story.

You see, the second store’s website also worked on the man’s phone so after he went to the store and purchased something, he was able to easily show other people the amazing place he found his new furniture at.

As for the first store, he would never visit there.  It’s entirely possible they had exactly what he was looking for.  They may have had better prices and more helpful staff.  His family may have continued buying furniture from that store for generations.

But their website was terrible, so he assumed their business wasn’t too great either.

This story can apply to just about any business.

Repair shops, churches, retail stores, car dealers, antique dealers, the list goes on.  In the battle arena that is the internet, the winner often isn’t the necessarily the person with the best service, but simply the best looking site.

While there’s certainly some drawbacks to that, there is one very nice advantage:

The Internet Levels the Playing Field

Never before have small businesses been so capable of appearing much larger than they are.  A custom design mobile friendly website can make a two-person operation look like a fortune 500 company.  Actually, there are some large corporations that have terrible websites, providing the perfect opportunity for a small business to beat them at their own game.

We have a number of clients in niche markets where that are devoid of good websites.  These clients now have a serious advantage of competitors much bigger than themselves simply because they have a great looking website.

So What Should My Website Have?

Most new websites have embraced a simple, modern approach.  It starts with a primary call to action.  From there, other important areas are placed in.  A great website should act as a guide that brings customers exactly where they want/need to go without them having to think/search too hard.

But I don’t know anything about good design, you say.

Well, that would be why you hire professionals.  We provide very affordable design services to companies so that they can look their very best.  Just make sure you’re not afraid of a little change.

You might need to revamp your logo.  Nothing sticks out more on a fresh and sleek website than an old and busted logo that’s a few decades old.

And it Should be Good on the Go

Almost 50% of searches are done on mobile devices.  What does that mean for you?  That means your website should be viewable on a smartphone or tablet.  It’s called being “responsive”.  A responsive website scales to whatever screen size your website is opened on so that people see a beautiful site that they can still read and navigate.  You could be losing customers simply because they can’t see your website on their phone.

That’s why we built our own custom framework that’s built around being responsive.  Our client’s websites are tested both on computer screens and phone screens to make sure they look great no matter where you’re viewing them from.

Is a New Website a Good Investment?

For the majority of businesses out there, absolutely.  People are only going to become more internet and mobile dependent.  As the older generation of consumers is replaced by a more tech-reliant one, your website will become the doorway to your business.

Whether or not customers walk through depends largely on how attractive, helpful, and navigable your website is.

Have you ever chosen a business or service based off their website?  What attracts you about a website?  What turns you away?





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Written by Timothy Snyder
on July 22, 2014