Sometimes small businesses forget that the aesthetics of their brand’s website can impact perception of their business.
We hate ugly websites – and so should you. We realize that we have a particular bias as a result of what we do so we’re sure that is to be expected. Nothing makes us cringe more than the sight of an ugly website and friends love to show them to me just to see my reaction.
But have you ever really thought about how design affects your credibility as businesses? Do ugly websites hurt business? Do people really laugh at your website? Sure you saved a few dollars hiring that “cheap website” company but is it costing you customers and profits? Turns out, the answer is yes.
Studies have been done on this topic, including one from Stanford University. These studies show that there are a number of design factors that influence how your visitors perceive your organization after visiting your website.
1) “Real-world” aspects of your organization. Do you list your physical address? Do you display professional photos of your key team members? In short, does your website reflect the legitimacy of your organization? If so, how long has it been since you’ve updated your site? Are your key team members still employed at your business? Are you still at that location? Any inaccuracies can also damage your credibility.
2) Ease of use. A website that is difficult to use damages the credibility of your organization because it gives the appearance you don’t care enough to present a logical, well-designed navigation. If you don’t care about your information infrastructure – how much do you care about your customers?
3) Markers of expertise. Your company website is an opportunity to display credentials and examples of your expertise. Take advantage of this and increase your credibility through case studies and credentials. Make yourself the “experts”.
4) Markers of trustworthiness. Studies have found that visitors responded more positively to websites that presented content in a transparent and unbiased fashion. By contrast, websites that crossed the line into being too promotional resulted in decreased levels of trust in visitors. Be honest and factual when presenting your online image to increase trust. Let your work do the talking. Don’t be a used car salesman.
5) Tailor the user experience. If your site allows customers to log in, give them access to specific data that is relevant to them. Additionally, allow your website visitors to easily find data relevant to their specific needs or markets.
6) Avoid over-promoting or over-advertising. Advertising elements can sometimes be very effective when implemented tastefully. Avoid the trap that many newspaper websites fall into when they plaster ads all over their home pages. Too much advertising damages credibility. Yes, I said it.
7) Pay attention to design details. YES, design matters. Even small glitches like a broken link or misspelled word can damage credibility. Additionally, avoid outdated, amateur design. A professional design goes a long way toward legitimizing your organization and can make the difference between a transaction and a lost customer.
Relationships matter and relationships are built on trust. Ultimately, credibility is a significant factor in your bottom line because trust must exist for a sale or a transaction to take place. Ask yourself “does your website design inspire trust?
Don’t have an ugly website – hire a professional.