During the first full week of school closures and businesses closing up shop to restrict in-person interaction, COVID-19 was already teaching business owners and employees major life lessons. One of the biggest lessons: we are not prepared to handle a crisis that brings the world to a grinding halt.
With everyone socializing at a distance, the importance of a strong, reliable web presence cannot be understated.
While social media is the easiest to maintain from afar, have you given your company website any thought?
I saw a post on LinkedIn today with a response about the importance of website design.
Is it better to have no website or a website that looks like it’s from the 90s?
While the 90s answer is a bit of an exaggeration, the simple answer is neither. Whether out of date or non-existent, both options will hurt your brand image.
Consider these first reactions and perceived misconceptions a potential client may about your company based on a lack of website:
“They must not be established or haven’t been around very long.”
“They must not be successful if they can’t invest in a website.”
“Are they licensed? Insured?”
“Is it a legitimate company?”
How can you tell if you need an update to your site?
Scroll to the bottom of your website. In the footer find the © symbol. What year is listed beside it? Maybe it’s not anything from the 1990s or 2000s, but anything developed more than 3-5 years ago is sure to raise these questions:
“Are they still in business? Do they still operate?”
“I guess the owner forgot about the website.”
“They must not be up to date on trends. I wouldn’t trust them for advice today regarding ______.”
“They must not be generating income if they can’t update.”
Before and After of Canton Kayak Club redesign by Harford Designs.
Here are some additional issues to consider with older websites:
- The general design and aesthetic are dated—meaning it no longer engages an over-stimulated audience.
- It takes several seconds to load completely—which means potential clients will click away for faster sites with quicker results.
- Lack of quality images—grainy images, cell phone quality, or overused and cliché stock photography may lead clients to believe you are running your business cheaply and cutting corners.
- Information overload and clutter—good design inspires and informs. Clients won’t know where to start if you have too much going on. Your website should tell a story that flows effortlessly from top to bottom.
- Weak or confusing user journey—if your potential client has to click all over your site to view information, you’ve already lost them. Information should be at their fingertips within 2-3 clicks.
- Poorly written content—while no one knows your business quite as you do, a DIY writing style may confuse your audience. You know what you’re talking about, but your clients might not depending upon a variety of demographics. Consider whom you are writing for. They may not be experts on the subject.
- Poor standard of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)—put plainly: your website won’t rank on Google in terms of search results. Instead of appearing at the top of page 1, your website falls somewhere on page 6 or 7. And truthfully, no one clicks that far into results.
- Hidden details or no visible point of contact—if your contact information isn’t at the top or bottom of every page, you’ve already lost that client. They have clicked away. They’ve visited your website, verified you are a real business, and now they want to call you.
Before and After of Harvest Investment Consultants redesign by Harford Designs.
How can you solve this problem?
First and foremost, be cautious with Do-It-Yourself website companies like Wix.com or Squarespace. While these companies advertise ease of use, it’s almost always the case that you’ll spend more time trying to figure out how to insert text and make something fit yourself than if you had hired a professional. And that lost time is lost money.
Additionally, these services may claim that they contain features such as SEO, but they only offer the barebones with minimum support. A professional website designer can take advantage of various plugins to enhance your website. And they will know which are worth investing in so there is no money wasted.
Before you upgrade or purchase your domain and hosting package, seek out a professional website designer who can navigate these sites on your behalf and ensure you’ve purchased the correct package based on your business needs.
How do I get started?
Let’s have a conversation about the problems your business is facing and how we can solve them through your website.