Not only do I love to read books, I am an avid collector of them as well. My most prized collection is my economics “library,” and I make a big deal about making sure the sellers I buy my books from are known for their quality of handling. One book I’ve been meaning to buy a better copy of is John Hick’s classic Value and Capital, and I was excited when I thought I had found a worthy candidate. I decided to look at the seller’s website to get a better feel of their store and what I found was an absolute turn-off. The site was obsolete, difficult to navigate, and just plain ugly. I decided, right then and there, that I wouldn’t buy the book from them.
Your website is the first impression of your business to many of your potential customers. Your services may be great, they may even be the best, but if your website doesn’t reflect this quality then how is anybody who hasn’t already experienced your services going to know? In fact, an unattractive website can send the opposite impression, just like that booksellers’ atrocious site sent me right into the arms of a competitor.
The Importance of a First Impression
Dentists know how important a good first impression is more so than others. In or around 2012, a research company by the name of Kelton Global published a study that showed how much your smile says about you. They found, for example, that people are more likely to think of someone as successful and trustworthy if they have a straight smile. The truth is there is probably no direct relationship between how trustworthy you are and how straight your smile is, but regardless that’s the power of a first impression. It can define how people think about you.
The same is true about your website. Say you’re a dentist, someone who specializes in helping people achieve healthy, beautiful smiles. When I search for a dentist, I ask a series of questions, which include:
- Does he or she have a history of excellence?
- Does the dentist have an eye for detail?
- Does the dentist have good taste?
Whether or not the dentist’s website accurately reflects the quality of the dentistry, it still influences how I answer those questions. If the website is disorganized, noisy, and unattractive, I feel that my experience at that dentist’s office will be the same. Again, this might not describe the practice at all, but because of the bad first impression I will never find out how awesome that dentist’s service actually is.
The same is true about every other business, as my bookstore example goes to show. If your website is not up to the same standard as your product or service, you might very well be losing business that would actually love what you can provide.
Case Study: Now Media Group
You know what business had a particularly unpleasant looking site? Now Media Group did! It wasn’t that bad…when it first went up…but, since then, it became clearer and clearer a site redesign was in order. So we decided to put our money where our mouth is and we redesigned the site in accordance to the advice we give our clients.
What are some of the elements that stand out on the new site?
- Beautiful, Clean Look: There are cars that look good when they’re new and there are cars that look good throughout most of their life. We wanted the latter. So we opted for a sleek, modern design that still kept traditional elements, with soft colors that convey our culture at Now Media Group. All in all, I think we were pretty successful in the “good looking website” department.
- Clear Communication: One of our primary concerns was accurately and clearly conveying the information our clients need to make an informed decision about their marketing strategy. To do this we: (a) expanded the scope of our website by adding new content. In fact, it’s pretty much entirely new content. We also, (b), organized this content on clear, concise landing pages that are easy to navigate, so you can find the information you need.
- Optimized Landing Pages: One of the most important pieces of advice I give to our pay-per-click clients is that the ad is only half the work, because you also have to make sure that your landing pages — where the ad takes your customers — are able to turn traffic into buyers. We wanted to make sure our landing pages helped the reader know what path to follow and we wanted to make them easy to read. We took our own advice pretty literally: an example of one our landing pages.
- Call-to-Actions: If you take a look at our home page, you’ll see there are quite a few call-to-actions. The first thing you see is a bright, orange button. You scroll down and you see big, clear buttons that go to our service pages. Once more, you scroll down again and you get a link to see our work, and, finally, you scroll down one more time and you can contact us. No matter where you are on the page, there are clear paths for you to follow — our website is confusion-free!
- Clear Navigation: It should be easy for people to get from one page to another, so we made our main navigation as easy as possible. Not only can you easily get to our service landing pages, but when you hover over each category you also see links to the deeper-level pages that provide more specific information. That way you don’t have to spend time figuring out how to get where you need to go (or, more likely, just leave the site in frustration).
Of course, our new website is still a work in progress. There’s still a lot to add and there are still things to fix. But, that’s another important part of a successful site. There’s no such thing as perfection and there are always opportunities to improve. So, just like how we recommend to our clients to keep adding to their digital marketing strategy, we’re making sure we do the same.
What Does Your Site Say About Your Business?
If you feel that your website doesn’t do a good job at reflecting the quality of your services or products, it’s probably time for a redesign. We encourage you to take a look at how we can help you, and we’re always here to provide in-depth advice on how you can move your digital marketing strategy forward.
Formerly at [Tony] Robbins Research International and at Now Media Group as their Director of Marketing, Jonathan has a background in quantitative economics and analytics.