First of all, if you have a business of any kind, you need a website. Believe it or not, some businesses still do not have websites. Secondly, and more to the point, it’s not good enough anymore to just have a website. I suppose you could argue that a bad website is better than no website at all. That may be true. But, you need to stop and ask yourself, “What does my website say about my company?”
Let’s take a trip back for a moment. How would a prospective customer find your business 15-20 years ago? They would look you up in the yellow pages and give you a call. Depending on the type of business you were in, they would either come into your store/office, or you would send a salesperson out to meet them. The first impression this potential customer will have about your business is based on your salesperson. Now, let’s say that you had one salesperson. He was poorly-dressed and unkempt. He made babies cry. (Okay, so maybe not that bad, but you get the point) Would you send out this person to visit with potential customers? Of course you wouldn’.
Let’s fast forward to today. Business has changed. You no longer compete with local businesses in the phonebook, you compete with the world. Instead of 3 competitors, you have 30 competitors, some on different continents. However, with the increase in competition comes an increase in potential customers.
How do these potential customers find your business? They search for you online and visit your website. Many, if not all, of your customers will never see or talk to anyone at your company. All they will see is your website, and make a decision whether or not to do business with you based on what they see. Your website is today’s salesperson. It must make a good impression on a potential customer in a short amount of time, or they’ll move right along. People will quickly pass two important judgments on your company based on your website: professionalism and credibility.
Your website will say a lot about how professional you are as a company. Let’s go back to the unkempt salesperson analogy. A potential client walks into your office and is greeted by this salesperson. What kind of judgment will this potential client pass on your company regarding your professionalism? I imagine it would be poor.
The connection is obvious. Since your website is the first thing a potential client will see, it must look professional. If not, you just lost a customer. Sloppy websites scream one thing: “We don’t care about our brand and neither should you”. Don’t think that you need a website just to keep up with the times. Your website is now the face of your company.
In today’s e-commerce world, credibility is everything. The customer has to be certain that they can trust your company to do exactly what you say you will do. Let’s say that I love Belgium chocolates (which I do) and I want to buy 50 pounds of said chocolate online. I search for Belgium chocolate and find a wide array of sites to buy from. The first site I visit looks poorly made and sloppy. I’m gone. If you don’t even care enough to put on a good professional face, how can I trust you with, A. my money, and B. to deliver my chocolate? I can’t, I don’t have to, and I won’t. There are plenty of other, more trustworthy-looking sites to choose from.
“But my website is functional”
There are plenty of websites out there with great functionality. They do everything and more that you need them to do. But keep in mind, if it’s not attractive, potential customers won’t stick around long enough to see how great your site is. They find a site, make a judgment, and either move on or stay to find out more. Functionality in a website is necessary, but if it doesn’t look good as well, you’re wasting your time. For example, maybe your poorly dressed, unkempt salesperson has a lot of knowledge. Maybe he is very skilled and could really help a customer out. Let’s also say that you have another salesperson who isn’t quite as knowledgeable. He’s clean-cut and well-dressed. Who will make more sales? The fact is, if a potential customer has already passed judgment based on looks, the poorly dressed salesperson won’t get the chance to demonstrate his skill. Keep this in mind, my friends, and build your websites accordingly.
I will say it again: Your website is your salesperson. Treat it as such. Your website is the first impression you will make on a potential customer. It doesn’t matter if your company sells to other businesses or consumers. It doesn’t matter how functional and high tech it is. If it doesn’t look good, people won’t even stick around. With plenty of other options to choose from, why should they? Remember, your website is the face of your company, so make it a good one.