Face It: You Need A New Website Design

First impressions count.  Malcolm Gladwell popularized this familiar notion recently in Blink:  The Power of Thinking Without Thinking:  we make snap, lasting judgments and decisions that in many cases may be permanent.  Your website is offering that all too important first impression to prospective customers daily.

What story does your website tell about you?  Does it say you’re:

  • Relevant and with the times or dated and lagging behind competition?
  • Caring about the image you project to the world?
  • Unwilling to invest in something so simple as how others view you?
  • Serious about your product?
  • Bland or bold?
  • Unique and creative or templated?
  • Premium or average?
  • A leader or a follower?
  • Organized or in disarray?
  • Someone I would trust as a partner that will elevate my brand’s worth or someone who will drag it down?

While increasingly the first interaction with brands happens within social channels or away from your domain, your website still matters greatly.  It’s a fallacy this is not the case, and those propagating the notion that “websites are dead” are either clueless or working purely with clients in non-conversion oriented industries.  Ignore them.

Even if you’re in an industry where your website isn’t really conversion-oriented and competitors are yielding their entire presence to the stream, you shouldn’t do this.  Remember if you’re building brand awareness many consumers will type your domain directly into a web browser or even into Google.  If you don’t have a domain (or your domain is unkept) what will they find?  The reality is that not all consumers want to be social, some just want information.  A man on the street interview by Google confirms many don’t even know what a browser is even if they use it.  The world’s digital divide is very real.

Further, we are judging companies, consciously or not, by the way they portray themselves on their own domain.  Within social channels, we’re usually playing by the rules of others.   There is a limit to what we can and can’t do.  All participants must follow the template, whether they want to or not.  So it’s a quick litmus test for decision makers to check out a brand’s website, especially in the B2B marketing space – it let’s us see what a company does when not coloring within the lines.

Your website is the place to either let your creativity shine, or not.  Either way you’re telling a story to the world.  Checking a company’s or individual’s website or even blog is a quick barometer of how we should perceive that person or company.  Content matters, but so does design.

  • It’s where prospects come during all phases of the buying cycle
  • It’s where you’ll attract new talent or scare them off
  • It’s where your investors look to get a feel for your company

And yet, I’ll say anecdotally (and I’m sure nearly all marketing and PR folk will agree) more companies have a terrible website design than a remarkable design.  And most are, shockingly, unwilling to update their site.  They say there’s no budget, they’re waiting for more revenue to come in, or they are waiting for the web to deliver more as it stands now.

Let’s all be honest with ourselves:  the value of your website is not going to decrease anytime soon.  You are losing money every day you do not have a website well suited to accomplish your business goals and communicate who you are to the world.  If you are a business and seriously interested in growing in the future, you need a modern, effective, freshly updated website (you should blog too).  If you’re waiting for the magic day to come, here’s your wake up call:  it isn’t coming.  Time to get to work.

Who would I recommend that I’ve worked with?  Here are two designers I’ve had success with and would recommend:

Wake Interactive (they build beautiful Expression Engine-powered sites and also  Ruby on Rails apps – I’ve worked with them on multiple projects, including the award-winning Java Beta Test application)

Pro Blog Design (they build great looking blogs, including this one – here’s the story)

If you are planning to hire anyone to redesign your site to create something more modern (or currently working through the design) – consider these essential tips on how to redesign your site effectively.

You wouldn’t send a team member dressed inappropriately to meet every single potential prospect for your company, right?  What do you think is happening if you have a dated web design?