Imagine finding out on a Sunday that all 3 of your business websites have suddenly been taken offline by your host. You try to call the host, but they're not the least bit helpful because you must speak to the Terms of Service Compliance Department and they are already gone for the day. They'll be available via chat late that night but in the meantime, your websites are completely gone.
Do you know how long it takes someone to form a first impression of your business from your website? The research varies, but it's no more than a few seconds. It could be as little as a half a second. Scary, right? Your website only gets one chance to make a good first impression!
A website doesn't need to be fancy to be effective but it does need to be good.
Have you heard of the phrase, "Primum non nicere?" It means, "first, do no harm." Yes, it's usually related to healthcare, but it is just as true for websites. Sadly, if your website is turning off potential customers, it's doing more harm than good.
Perception is Everything
Here's an interesting tidbit - Customer's preconceived perception of your business effects how they interact with you and/or your employees.
Let's say you have a restaurant and a new customer goes to your website before dining there that evening. They look at your website and see it's a bit off. It's outdated and there are a couple of areas where html is showing instead of the photos that are intended to be there.
They've heard good things about your restaurant though so they aren't swayed. The customer looks for your dinner menu online but it's not there. They find a special lunch menu, but it is for summer, 2013.
Their impression is diminishing by the moment but they still go to dinner. The customer's interaction with your hostess and waitstaff is less than friendly. You just chalk it up to a grumpy customer who cannot be satisfied. Your stellar staff goes above and beyond to make the customer happy, but it's like they're swimming upstream. The customer leaves feeling like they had a so-so experience and is unlikely to become a raving fan.
Now let's look at the opposite. The same customer goes to your restaurant's website but the site looks good. It has a fresh design and all of the current pertinent information is easily found. The customer then goes to dinner that night.
Unfortunately, the restaurant is having one of those nights from hell. You're short staffed and you have just run out of the meal the customer was planning to order. The staff is as friendly as can be though and the customer goes with the flow. The customer feels satisfied with their visit, feeling well taken care of and looking forward to return at another time.
It may seem far-fetched but similar situations happen all the time. This scenario assumes the customer still goes to the hypothetical restaurant with a bad website but many times, a customer will move on and select a different business that is better presented online.
Look at Your Site With Fresh Eyes
Go take a look at your website. Try looking at it with fresh eyes, as if you were your ideal customer. What do you think of the site? Does it portray the professional image you want to portray to your customers?
Every website can be improved in some way. This one included! I'm not suggesting a site needs to be perfect in order to be acceptable, but ask yourself - Are you putting your best virtual foot forward?
Agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear your input on this!