Your clothing matters. Your grooming matters. Your presentation skills matter. When it comes to sales, these are no-brainers, right? Without thinking too deeply about it, we accept that we are being judged by appearances, so we strive to make good first impressions.
Yet when it comes to good website design, there seems to be a giant disconnect, especially for telecom agents, VARs and MSPs.
“People don’t judge me by my website.”
“My website doesn’t matter. I just need a list of services and my contact information.”
“I don’t get any leads from the web, so I don’t put much time into my website.”
Sound familiar? Let’s talk about why these perceptions are outdated and why good design matters.
Your Subconscious Mind Cares About Good Web Design
Our brains process visual information in 13 milliseconds. So before your eyes can begin to fixate on the text, your mind has decided if it likes what it sees — or if you should run for the hills. The first place we receive information is in the brain stem, which is responsible for our fight or flight response. Good design helps us feel “safe,” while bad or outdated design makes us feel uneasy.
Why does web design matter so much?
Oren Klaff gives an excellent explanation of this in his book Pitch Anything.
The basic idea is that we are attracted to things that are new, growing, alive, and thriving, while we’re repulsed by things that are old, dying, and decaying. This comes down to basic survival instinct — dead and decaying things carry disease and are potentially hazardous to our well being.
To break this down more simply:
High quality, current web design = instant trust, greater attraction, “wow” factor, desire
Poor, outdated web design = distrust, repulsion, fear, “ick” factor, run away!
Again, this process happens in a part of the brain that is pretty much on auto-pilot, so even if your content is spectacular, you will still leave a bad impression unless the design follows suit.
Do a Website Design Gut Check
With this in mind, look at your website and ask yourself these questions:
- Is the design in alignment with current trends? (more on this below)
- Are the images modern? If not, update them.
- Does your blog have current posts? If not, take it down.
- Are your news or social feeds active? If not, remove them.
- Is the date in your footer the current year? Update it today.
- Is there anything on your site that might cause someone to wonder if you’re still in business? Like the date in your footer?
- Is there anything on your site to indicate you don’t take good care of it? Broken links? Spacing problems, etc.?
- Are you portraying that your company is alive and growing?
If you have any sense that your web design is “stale,” it’s likely turning away potential customers or partners without you ever knowing.
At a minimum, I typically recommend the following activities be performed once or twice a year:
- Home page design refresh, including a new header image and messaging, and a new content piece for download.
- Update your CMS (WordPress, for example) to ensure you’re on the most current version.
- Similarly, ensure all plugins and widgets are updated.
- Content audit: do you still offer all the services you have listed? Have you added any new ones that need to be included? (Hint: SD-WAN!)
Now that we’ve established why good website design is important, let’s look at what makes a design effective.
Web Design 2017: What’s “In”
I’m using our own new home page for these examples.
1) Large images
Especially on home pages and in headers. It gives the sense of feeling less crowded and is easier on the eyes.
2) Customer-centric messaging
Although this isn’t directly about design per se, your messaging does affect what images you choose. Make sure you speak directly to your target audience instead of all about yourself. Even better if you’re addressing a common pain point of your target audience.
3) Longer pages (more scrolling)
Platforms like Facebook and Pinterest have conditioned us to “the eternal scroll,” so it makes sense that web pages have followed suit. You can check out our full home page for an example of this.
Great for adding a visual element to lists and breaking up the text. This section below would be an eyesore if it weren’t for the icons breaking up the text.
Great for visual separation around different types of content. You can get really creative with these and they definitely add a modern feel to any website.
6) Simple, clear CTAs
Ask your visitors to do one thing at a time, and if you’re including a form, don’t ask for too much information.
7) Larger footers with more links
When you reach the end of a long page, do you really want to scroll all the way to the top again? Probably not. So give your web visitors easy access to your hottest links in your footer.
Web Design 2017: What’s “Out”
1) Large paragraphs of text, especially with small font.
Simply put, they an eyesore and no one will read them. Even worse, they will annoy your web visitor.
2) Too many CTAs
It may seem counter-intuitive, but too many choices only incites analysis paralysis. Keep your CTA’s focused on something related to the page. You’re also much more likely to get opt-ins if you keep the form short and sweet. Only ask for what is essential, like name and email.
3) Too much movement (i.e., scrolling banners)
These are visually distracting and rarely support the message being conveyed. Yes, video and movement can add a “cool factor” to your website, but the trade of is that people may not see what’s really important.
4) Requiring multiple clicks to reach desired destinations
I was on a website recently that required me to click on three different page links before I arrived at the information I was looking for. Most people would have given up after one or two.
Remember, attention spans are short in 2017 and patience is in short supply. Don’t make your website visitors work too hard to find what they’re looking for. Give them easy access to the content they want most. You can do this by simplifying your navigation, adding helpful links to your footer and sidebar, and inserting tags and categories into your blog.
Now that you’ve learned the reasons why you might want to invest in good website design and have seen some examples, the rest is up to you!
If you’d like to schedule some time to review your website and get specific feedback and ideas, we’d be happy to help you out. Fill out the form below and someone will be in touch shortly.