Imagine that you walk into an unappealing, tacky and dirty store only to find yourself greeted unprofessionally by a suspicious salesperson. I would imagine that your first impression would not be very positive. Now ask yourself, does your Web site give that same virtual first impression? If not then congratulations, yours is in the minority. Most Web sites I see each day from prospective clients I would never consider revisiting again as a consumer, and that opinion is unfortunately the majority.
Now, you might say these are some of your favorite sites where you find the best deals and bargains. I’m all for a good deal, but sites that give an immediate negative first impression are never acceptable and rarely successful. If a site doesn’t immediately gain my trust then how am I to believe that an advertised deal is truly a deal and that the company is a respectable operation? More often than not I find myself leaving the site because that site had done nothing to gain my trust or my interest. A negative first impression just lost a potential customer.
When doing business online, just like in person, you want to align yourself with the proper, trusted organization and in the appropriate business surroundings. Does your site convey the same message as when someone walks into your brick and mortar office? If not, why? Every day I’m amazed by how many business owners actually believe that it’s adequate to put together an amateur web site and deem it an acceptable representation of their company. Why is it that when it comes to their own web site, they opt to leave an amateurish, shameful and insipid first impression when most business owners go the extra mile to make a positive first impression in person by wearing nice suits, driving luxurious cars and renting nice office space?
So how do you make a positive first impression online? The first step is to understand the simple statistically validated fact that most Web surfers will subconsciously make their final determination of your organization in less than ten seconds. Since those ten seconds are so vital to the successful conversion of surfer to visitor to customer, I came up with a few absolute musts to ensure a positive first impression.
A disorganized and cluttered Web site gives the impression of a disorganized business.
The use of blurry or fuzzy graphics and amateur images taken with household digital cameras give the impression of a company that does not value quality. An investment in either stock or professional photography will greatly enhance the desired response. Also keep in mind that actually less is better.
Attention Grabbing Content
Use attention grabbing assets to lead the visitor to where they can find useful information, the chances they will find it themselves are slim. A professional looking image that by clicking leads to information on a new workshop, article, product or service is a good example of such assets. Do not use flashing graphics with the words new, or buy now.
A horribly thought out color scheme will leave a longer lasting negative impression than most other aspects of a poorly designed site. Use colors appropriately to harmonize with your target market.
What’s in it for me? Nobody cares about your methodologies, the user simply wants to benefit by either making a purchase online or by obtaining valuable and interesting information that you have developed.
How much is it costing your business not to make the right first impression? Several years ago I came across a great but yet simple print ad from an ad company that said: “You wouldn’t have your surgeon represent your in court, nor will you let your attorney perform brain surgery on you. Let us do the advertising work for you.” The same sense applies to this article. Will you let just anyone put together the strategy and implementation of your company’s image? Imagine from the end user perspective how that message will ultimately be perceived. If your desired outcome is to gain new customers and retain existing ones, I recommend that you align yourself with a trusted business partner or your clients are DOA.