You’re in a beautifully designed reception area, about to interview for your dream job. You’re fidgeting and nervous. You’re wiping your hands on your pants because they’re sweaty, and it’s making you even more nervous. Why? Because slightly damp, quivering hands are not impressive.
Because you know –first impressions matter.
This notion is something we all grew up with, so why does this carefully built construct go out the window when it comes to business practices? How can a lifetime of anxious first meetings be disregarded when we make decisions about the way our companies first interact with our customers?
Honestly, who can say? Maybe this oversight was born from a perceived business norm back in the day. Maybe it’s forgotten amidst all the day-to-day challenges of running a business. Whatever the case may be, a plethora of companies have forgotten to place value upon the most basic of human principles.
First. Impressions. Matter.
I’m here to help lay down some groundwork. I intend to shed light on what you could do to improve the interactions your customers have with your brand. And, because everything is inbound, I will frame it within the stages of the inbound methodology: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight.
The attract stage is important. REALLY important. You want to attract people to your business. This can be done in many ways – from the way your business card looks to the way your employees interact with customers. Today I’ll speak specifically about your brand.
Your brand acts like a handshake between your business and your customers. It’s the first thing they see and feel. In an ever-growing web culture, we’ve become over inundated with stuff. From website banner ads to endless social media feeds, the internet is saturated. One way to set yourself apart from the crowd is by having consistent yet simple branding.
Think of globally recognized brands like Nike, Apple, and Starbucks. There’s a reason their names get mentioned in every paper or presentation about branding. It’s because they’re doing it right. They have strong brand elements that stay consistent throughout all materials, and they keep all of their visuals concise and easy to recognize. Simplicity goes a long way.
Design-related first impressions go beyond the look and feel of your brand. Keep a visitor on your website and give them the opportunity to convert by focusing on user experience. On average, you’ve got about 15 seconds to impress your website visitors. In the time it takes to brew a Keurig K-cup, the majority of your visitors have looked at the page and determined whether or not it’s worth their time.
Because of this incredibly fast dismissal, it’s vital you focus on website design. A good design will be easy to navigate and understand, and ideally the user will find what they need with time to spare. Here are some quick references to determine if your website is easy to use:
Does your website load quickly?Global average is less than three seconds for desktop users and four-and-a-half seconds for mobile users. The bad news? Users – especially on mobile – have a tendency to abandon web pages if it takes more than three-four seconds to load. One way to make sure your pages load quickly is by using compressed images throughout. A great free tool to do this is Compressor.io.
Is it easy for your users to get to the place they need to be? How long does it take for your user to locate whatever it is they came to find? Whether it’s a description of what you do, an answer to a specific question, or your standard service pricing, users have to be able to see the information quickly. Here’s a quick test: Find someone who would fit your persona and see how long it takes them to find information about your company. Better yet? See how long it takes a six year old. Remember: Simple = best.
Next, consider where you are leading your visitors. You want them to become contacts in your system or, better yet, leads. Ultimately you want to close the deal. Is there a clear direction a user can take to learn more? Regardless of where they are in their buyers journey, they must be able to move forward. Whether it’s through a link to another blog, a call-to-action to download a guide about a product or service, or simply pointing to the ‘Contact Us,’ empower your users to move forward with your company.
Test it out yourself: Go through every page of your website, including blogs and “About Us” pages, and ask yourself, “What is the next logical step I would take? How do I get there?” If you are making users go back a few pages to seek out this next step, you are making them work too hard. Give them a path to what they need right on that page. From a design standpoint, the easiest way to succeed at this is by providing high-contrast call-to-action buttons to lead the user to their destination.
Last, but not least, let’s talk about the delight phase. It’s easy to think of the delight phase as something that comes after the sale: the follow up survey or the appreciative social media shout-out. The reward they receive for becoming your customer. While these are important ways to show gratitude, I would argue that the delight phase should be incorporated throughout a customer’s experience with your brand. Design is an excellent way to ensure you are delighting your visitors at all stages. By designing a website that is easy to use, you make their lives easier. Easier = delightful.
The Wrap Up
As a graphic designer, I can’t overstress the importanceof good website design. A successful website is clean, clear, and beautiful. Beauty, of course, depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Maybe your beautiful means large, eye-catching photos. Maybe your beautiful is cutting edge, flat-style animation. No matter the style, keep your website up-to-date. Nobody likes a website that looks like it was designed in the late '90s. And we can’t forget about responsiveness. If your website doesn’t work across all devices, it doesn’t work.Period.
Hopefully you will be able to use these points to determine if your online presence is up to par and creating a good impression on users. Not sure your website is working as well as it could to get you leads? Reach out and we will help analyze your online presence.
A deep love of art and design drives me as I navigate the ever-changing waters of marketing. I am constantly looking for new and better ways to give the inbound marketing methodology the beautiful face it deserves. As the Art Director, I ensure that all of the design work we produce is top notch and designed with a purpose. When I’m not trying to solve creative problems, my life revolves around my family and friends, my passion for music, and my addiction to stories.