These days it’s pretty easy to put together a fairly good looking website, but I’m here to break some bad news to you, Sunshine:
Your customers don’t care what your website looks like – they care what it works like.
You see, your potential customers didn’t set out to search the internet for a nice looking website. No, they went searching for a real company which they can trust to deliver the products or services they need or want today.
But the reality is that they can’t tell whether your company, products, or services are good or bad just by looking at your website’s design.
They must read your information, interact with your website, and develop a good level of trust before they consider spending their time or money on your products or services.
Does this company seem reputable? Is it a good fit for me? Is this really what I’m looking for? Can I trust them with my credit card? What’s the return policy? Can I call and ask questions? Are other customers happy with their experience?
These are the types of questions people really ask themselves when making the decision to do business with a company, and these are the things they will want to know from you. (Just like you ask yourself, when you search online for something.)
Surface versus Substance
When thinking about your website, don’t get seduced by a slick design template or a fancy looking screenshot of someone else’s website in a designer’s portfolio.
Put yourself in the mind of a person who knows nothing about you and ask yourself: Would I trust this company to take care of me and not screw me over? (I can assure you that the delicious shade of teal you are just in love with will not do the trick.)
Now, I’m definitely not saying that your website shouldn’t look good. (Of course it should look good.) But it had certainly better be good at its job if it’s going to satisfy your potential customers.
Form follows Function
Below, I have compiled an outline of some important insights to consider when creating your website information and materials.
Notice that most of the below points have nothing to do with color, shape, or graphic design — but instead emphasize good and well-organized information, clear communication, and useful functionality.
Once you have the right information and functions in place, a very nice form (read: the design) will follow practically all by itself.
At KPFdigital we’ve learned this stuff over the course of building and launching hundreds of successful websites. Ignore these tips at your own risk.
- Don’t be seduced by slick looks and colors
- This is not an art project or painting for your wall
- What it looks like isn’t as important as what it does
- Fancy tools are only as good as the work they perform
The Correct Mindset
- Forget about yourself. Instead, look through the eyes of your visitor
- Clear the “I like this” or “I don’t like that” line of thinking
- Get into a real consumer mindset; Is this for real? Can I trust this?
- Imagine that it’s your time and money on the line, or perhaps your safety and security which is at stake. (This is what you’re asking your customers to do!)
What Customers Want To Know
- Is this what I’m looking for?
- Is this the right thing for a person like me?
- Can I trust you?
- Are you an expert, or are you new at this?
- What does it cost?
- Is it safe?
- Have other people tried it?
- Will there be any surprises?
- What if something goes wrong, will you help me?
- Are you located near me?
- Can I return it or get a refund easily?
Customers Don’t Really Care
- What shade of purple you used as a background
- What exact fonts you chose
- Whether it’s made with HTML, PHP, or MySQL
- Whether your boyfriend, girlfriend, or mother really, really, really likes it
Customers Really Do Care
- Can they trust you?
- Can they read your site on a mobile phone?
- Can they navigate/find things easily?
- Can they find can you on Google?
- Does it load quickly, or is it really slow?
- Is it secure enough to enter their credit card info?
- Will they be over-marketed (spammed) after purchase?
Reality Check Please
- Your website is NOT an art project: Looks do matter, but offering and delivering trustworthy service, products or information is what really matters
- Your website is not for you, it’s for your visitors: Make sure you understand their needs and make sure those needs are met
- Trust and credibility are absolutely critical: Most of your customers will have never met you personally, so your website must stand in for you. If you knew nothing else about yourself, would you gain enough trust from your website to do business with you or your company?
Think about it. You don’t like wasting your time on cluttered, confusing, or dazzling-but-not-useful websites — so why would you want one of those for yourself?
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