Love at first site?
By Linda Mellor
By the end of 2014 the number of websites is expected to top a billion. Global Internet usage is continuing to grow as technology allows us to connect via our phones, tablets and laptops in almost any location. More than 71% of Britons say they are always looking at screens. The importance of a professional website has never been greater.
First impressions count as it only takes a matter of seconds for website users to make up their mind about your site and whether they should stay or go. The increased numbers of smartphone users has encouraged more immediacy and spontaneity in communication and the consumption of information. The instant someone lands on your page the visual appeal of your website needs to instantly engage users so they spend time and want to know more. Even before visitors look at your products and services they will be swayed by the look and feel of your website.
A professional looking site should have a clean design, good quality photographs, readable content and allow for easy navigation. You may have superior products and services but an initial negative impression, whether generated from a poor design or an unappealing colour scheme, can send potential customers away.
“There are a number of common mistakes people make when building a site” says Ian Paltiel, Commercial Director of Internet Creation. “To avoid the pitfalls it is important to do your homework when choosing a web designer, find out about their company history look through their portfolio and read recommendations from previous clients.”
It is important to use appropriate colour schemes to promote and sell your products and services. Colours should be complimentary to the page design and be pleasing to the eye and not be overpowering. Many Countryside based sites use a lot of green, if the site designer has been somewhat heavy-handedly with green it can look intense and off putting especially for those affected by colour blindness as they will struggle to view the site. In the UK, colour blindness affects approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women.
Ian continues: “It is very easy for the inexperienced eye or someone too close to the business to add lots of content and photographs without really considering what their customers are interested in.” Photographs should showcase your business; they should be eye-catching, professionally taken and relevant. Appealing images can attract customers and make them stay.
You may think you have captured a great photograph for your website on your mobile phone camera or pocket camera but it will never replace an image taken by the trained eye of a photographer with professional camera equipment. Professional images instantly offer credibility and give potential customers confidence in your company. Employing a photographer connects you to your products and services by sending out a visual message that you care about your business and professionalism is important to you.
Stock photos may be an instant and cheap solution to your site although using them may suggest you do not care enough about your customers. Impersonal to your business and generic, stock photographs are available to everyone. If you use stock images consider the possibility they may also appear on your competitors’ sites.
Keeping up to date with mobile technology developments and using a responsive design are also imperative for site visitors. Responsive sites recognise which application you are using to view and resize accordingly. Ian says: “People expect to see a responsive design, so you do not have to pinch or scroll to read the content. Navigation is easier and download times are faster. Customers have high expectations; they have visited other responsive sites and expect to see it everywhere.”
Ian’s good advice:
Don’t settle for good when it comes to your website—be great. Visible 24/7 to people all over the globe, your website is you’re most powerful marketing strategy. No printed brochure or magazine advertisement reaches more potential clients or offers the flexibility to easily update content as your business grows.
Don’t take shortcuts no other marketing tool offers a better opportunity to grow your business and see real results.
Creating and maintaining a great website is a huge responsibility. It must be updated often, be usable and informative, and also visually appealing, fast loading, and functional. So treat it with the due attention that it deserves.
Where does your company website stack up in the mix of bad to great business websites?
Is your company professional, knowledgeable, reliable, error-free, and better than the competition? Yes? Then make sure your website communicates this.
Contact Ian Paltiel Commercial Director, Internet Creation Ltd. 07988 899521 W: www.internetcreation.net
Contact Linda Mellor Professional Photographer, Linda Mellor Photography. 07875 152072 W: www.lindamellorphotography.co.uk