A few years ago, my husband and I were house hunting. Like all potential home buyers, we had a list of things we wanted in our new home. We saw several properties that met our requirements but were rejected as soon as we walked through the front door. Why? The décor and design of the homes were 20-30 years out of date.
Does that sound like a superficial reason to reject a house? Well, it wasn’t because we didn’t like the style of the current homeowners! We were concerned that since they didn’t update the decor, they may not have maintained the rest of the house. Were we looking at expensive repair bills? We didn’t wait to find out – we didn’t want to waste our time hanging around. We moved to the next house on our list.
What does house hunting have to do with websites? Our response was the same as a visitor hitting an outdated website! If the site is outdated and not easy to use, they will quickly look somewhere else – why take the chance that the information is also out of date?
Why does web design matter?
If you want to turn browsers into buyers, here are five reasons to keep your website’s design and functionality current:
1. First impressions are important Did you know that you only have a few seconds to capture the attention of interested website visitors? In that time, they’ll get a feel for how easy it is to find what they’re looking for. But if your site is slow, unattractive and not easy to use, they’ll quickly go elsewhere.
Just as there are other homes to look at, there are always other websites that will catch the attention of the user.
2. Gotta look good on a phone Here’s a fun fact: more than 26 million people in Canada use their phones to search the Internet. Mobile technology is always changing and you have to make sure that your site keeps up. It needs to be mobile-friendly because almost 30 per cent of all business transactions happen on mobile devices and that number is rising.
Savvy businesses make sure their website allows customers to do everything they need to – wherever they are.
3. Search needs to find you They days of “if you build it, they will come” are over. Search – that’s how people find the info they need and there are some pretty specific things your site needs for search engines to find it. The algorithms that search engines use to serve up search results to users have changed dramatically over the years. The hard reality is: websites that haven’t changed in a few years aren’t optimized to meet the needs of search engines today.
Bottom line – if your site is outdated, your potential customers can’t find you. If you’re interested in learning more about making your site search friendly, check out What the heck is SEO?.
4. But I like how my site looks One mistake many small business owners make is designing their website to their own specific personal style. Showcasing your brand and style is vital, but remember you are building your site to appeal to potential clients. Just as homebuyers may be turned off by outdated 80s décor, users will abandon your site if the colours and design haven’t changed in 20 years. Wild colours, crazy gifs and music automatically playing may have worked when the site was first created, but it doesn’t work today – even if you still love it!
There are many ways to design a site to appeal to potential customers while highlighting your style and showing how your products and services can meet their needs.
5. Are you credible? Web users are becoming more discerning when looking at websites. They’re asking questions like … is this business valid and do I want to spend my time or money here? A well-designed site encourages users to believe the company is credible, so they’re willing to find out more.
An outdated site sends the message that your business is out-of-touch and not able to handle the needs of a modern consumer.
Web design may be subjective but it’s important not to let your personal style get in the way of people finding your site and buying your products or services. As they say, you only get one chance to make a good first impression – don’t blow it on a poorly designed or outdated site!
And in case you wanted to know, my husband and I bought a great house that only needed a lick of paint before we moved in. Good design works in house hunting and web browsing!