Don’t Let Poor Website Design Hold Your Business Hostage: Part One of Three

By Rick Sloboda 

Online visitors form a first impression of a website quicker than the blink of an eye — literally. It typically takes humans 300 to 400 milliseconds to blink. Meanwhile, scientific research led by Dr. Gitte Lindgaard at Carleton University in Ontario, reveals that websites have as little as 50 milliseconds to establish a first impression — a mere 1/20th of a second. That’s it!

This is crucial information for any business, since once a visitor forms an impression on a subconscious level, he or she will selectively search for information confirming that impression. People do this because we all want to prove we have good judgement. So, if our first impression of a website is negative, we have a tendency to mainly seek and see the negatives, regardless of how good their products and services might actually be. Alternatively, if we immediately like what we see, we’ll look for positive information to reinforce that impression.

So how do you avoid making a bad first impression on the Web? Easy. Find a good designer.

Poor Design Sets the Stage For Failure

DIY website design might seem like a good idea at the get-go. Not only can you avoid spending wads of money on eccentric creative types, only you know how you really want your business branded. No one loves your business like you do! Plus, throwing together a layout with some colours, images and buttons, while sipping a Caramel Macchiato on a Sunday afternoon is easy, right?

Wrong. Based on 20-plus years of communications experience, speaking at Web-related events, and teaching Web-writing courses to small business owners, our copywriters have come to recognize a common cycle: 

  1. The do-it-yourselfer spends several hours to a few weeks building a website.

  2. The website is launched. 

  3. The website is live, but there are few visitors that trickle in, if any at all. The few who arrive don’t stick around. 

  4. Typically, 12 to 24 months later, if they’re still in business, they reach out to specialists to improve their SEO. If they get rankings, they wonder why the emails and calls still aren’t arriving. 

  5. Another six to 12 months later, they start to realize the website isn’t working and it’s not going to fix itself. Then comes the sobering realization that, in addition to wasting a few hundred dollars and countless hours and enduring unnecessary stress, they missed out on about three years of opportunities, revenues and growth.

Stay tuned for Part Two on Wednesday!

clip_image002_thumb.jpgRick Sloboda is a Senior Web Copywriter at Webcopyplus, which helps designers and businesses boost online traffic, leads and sales with optimized web content. Clients range from independent retailers to some of the world’s largest service providers, including AT&T (formerly Cingular), Quest Diagnostics and Scotia Bank. Rick advocates clear, concise and objective website content that promotes readability and usability, and conducts web content studies with organizations in Europe and the U.S., including Yale University. He speaks frequently at web-related forums and seminars, including Small Business BC, Content Convergence & Integration, SUCCESS and HRMA. Rick also serves as a consultant to various organizations, such as the Web Development Advisory Committee at Vancouver, B.C.’s Langara College.

By Adam

October 25, 2010