Ilumas

Website Development illustration
“Your website is the center of your digital eco-system, like a brick and mortar location, the experience matters once a customer enters, just as much as the perception they have of you before they walk through the door.”
     Leland Dieno
Poorly designed websites don’t discriminate. In fact, they’re pretty common across numerous business verticals. Many were probably thrown together in a rush by inexperienced business owners quickly trying to set up an online presence. While we should definitely applaud these entrepreneurs for understanding the significance of having an online presence, it’s not enough to just put “something” out there. Your website is your first impression to your customers. It tells them your story and is a way for customers to get to know you. It also demonstrates how competent you are at what you do and what differentiates you from other businesses. An inadequately designed and/or hard to navigate site will immediately have a negative impact on visitors, causing them to promptly move on to a competing site that won’t frustrate them. Therefore, it’s important to put research, thought, and effort into creating a gateway into your business that can potentially be a very powerful sales tool.

Here are five reasons why a great website is essential:

FIRST IMPRESSIONS REALLY DO MATTER

Your website says so much about you and your business. It conveys your commitment to growing a business by solving your customers’ problems through your product or service. Plus, no matter what anyone says, we do “judge a book by its cover.” We’re human. Judgement is hardwired into us for survival. And it’s no different with your business. Your website is not just the cover of your business. It’s the actual book – with a table of contents, organized chapters, and all.

First impressions last long and are hard to change. The immediate reaction visitors get when they open your site allows them to create their own narrative about what they’re experiencing. While you don’t have full control over their self-created story, you can present your business in the best light possible to hopefully skew their story in a positive direction. Excellent web design and functionality are the foundations to having a favorable impact on your customers from the get-go.

Understanding What's Important

Recently, a prospect with a poorly designed site wanted to hire us to handle their social media presence. They weren’t prepared to invest in redesigning their website, and strongly believed that their biggest issue was that they weren’t doing enough on social media. They felt that posting regularly could lead to more outreach and sales. While we agree that social media is a great tactic for growing brand awareness that can ultimately lead to sales, we knew the ROI was going to be very low. We could have easily elevated their social media presence, however, it didn’t matter how great the content was going to be if the posts linked back to a website that was going to leave a really bad impression.

IT LEGITIMIZES YOUR BUSINESS

Imagine if you walked into a retail shop with my business name on the front sign but the space was empty. You’d immediately assume I went out of business. Something similar happens online when your customers search for your website. Your business may be real, but if there’s no online presence or if your presence is a low-quality website, you’re not perceived as a legitimate or

“thriving” business. These days, having a decent website is as critical as having a business name or phone number. So, save yourself the hassle of redesigning a bad website later and invest in a great website now. Today’s customers have very high standards. They expect your site to be visually appealing, easy to use, and for it to clearly say something about your brand and what it has to offer. A badly designed or hard-to-navigate website not only leaves a very bad taste with your customers, but it’s also a sign to them that your company may not be “successful or sophisticated” enough to be worthy of their business. Make the investment in a well-planned site to legitimize your business and maximize your return.

IT’S AN OPPORTUNITY TO TELL YOUR STORY

Every brand has a story. It can be about how you got started, what inspired you to create the brand, what makes you different, how you approach what you do or what values you have. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be on an “About Us” page. Your brand’s story runs through the veins of the entire site.

It also doesn’t only manifest in the form of a beginning, middle and ending paragraph. Your story can be conveyed through your messaging, the fonts you use, your specific brand voice, the images you choose, the color scheme, and even the animations on your site. Through these, you can show a playful side or a serious tone. Just like interior design, your website can reveal a modern or traditional style. It’s up to you how you want to tell your brand’s story and how you want it to be perceived. It should, however, match your company’s core values and personality. For example. if you have a friendly and approachable culture, you can use light-hearted text, brighter colors, interesting fonts, and positive images.

One caveat: Customer perception within certain industries is important. For example, you don’t want a criminal lawyer’s site to be fun-loving. Their customers expect them to take their cases very seriously and may not appreciate a carefree approach on the website. However, even within the confines of what’s expected in a serious industry, you can still use a little creative freedom. Businesses are run by people, after all, and customers do business with people, especially people who are approachable. You just have to find the right balance.

CUSTOMER GET TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU

While the human attention span has gotten much shorter over the last decade, a website still provides an opportunity for your customers to get to know and trust you. This is particularly true on the top of your homepage. We call this area “above the fold”, where the homepage cuts off on your screen when it loads for the first time. This area usually includes a logo, navigation menu and a header image, design and text and gives visitors the

first glimpse of your brand and what it has to offer. When this page loads, you’ve got just milliseconds in which to draw in visitors and convince them to give you another 10-15 seconds of their time, so they keep scrolling or clicking. Every time you deliver more of what they’re looking for, you earn more time from that visitor.

However, a website is not just meant to be a digital brochure. Its ultimate objective is to get you leads. Therefore, you should create plenty of opportunities for visitors to click on a page that educates or solves a problem, with the eventual goal of them filling out a form or calling your business. If you make it very easy for them to find what they’re looking for, they may hang out longer and learn more about your business. And the longer they stay, the more likely they are to convert into customers.

❝  You should create plenty of opportunities for visitors to click on a page
to educate them or solve a problem they have, with the eventual goal of
them filling out a form or calling your business.❞

Videos on your website can also be a great way to not only demonstrate your prowess, but to also build trust with customers. Since our brains are naturally drawn to making connections with faces, visitors are more likely to trust a person on a video and consequently be more open to what you have to say and sell, making it more likely that they’ll convert into customers. Make sure you take advantage of the opportunities a website offers to help visitors build a relationship with your brand.

IT HELPS YOU STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD

Today, it’s easier than ever to build your own website. There are several platforms that are easy enough to use that you can put something together without hiring a firm to do it for you. However, it’s important to invest the time to understand what elements, texts and calls to action will engage your target audience best.

Visitors to your website evaluate these important elements:
  • Easy navigation
  • Clean layout
  • Modern design
  • Fast loading pages
  • Clear communication
  • Easy to find contact information
  • A mobile-friendly site
When done right, a well-designed website can help you stand out from your competitors. While creating a new website can seem too expensive, complicated, or time-consuming, it’s an investment you can and must make to stay competitive.

Also, web design is not just about building a site, but it also requires testing, getting your site indexed on multiple browsers, learning about how they rank your website, but also about making it SEO-friendly so that it achieves some ranking organically.

This is why web design firms often get paid to do this for brands. It can seem overwhelming to take on such a large-scale project when you’re also trying to run a business. So, having a team of capable people ready and willing to manage your company’s digital image and troubleshoot technological issues can be a real life-saver.

In the end, having a website that is not just run-of-the-mill but truly great is essential to your business. You can build it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you, but you must get started to reap the benefits your competitors are most likely already enjoying.

If you’re looking to hire a team of experienced and creative professionals to elevate your online presence, the team at ilumas can help identify the right look, functionality, text, images and brand voice your audience will respond best to. Call us today for a consultation.

About
THE
AUTHOR

Cindy Hernandez is the founder of Ilumas, Inc., a marketing intelligence agency focused on leveling the marketing playing field for small and medium-size businesses that until recently didn’t have the information, tools and insights to compete with bigger brands.

Contact Cindy today at info@ilumas.com or follow her on social.