Did you know your Web site may actually be costing you customers? The common consensus among business owners is that having a poorly designed Web site is better than not having one at all. We explain why that theory may actually cause you to lose customers.
First Impressions Really Matter
Think having a cheap Web site is better than not having one at all? Studies indicate that businesses are better off without a Web site, than with one that is poorly designed. The reason for this is that your Web site is often the first impression a potential customer has of your business. It tells them everything they need to know about your business within seconds. In fact, a study conducted at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, concluded that users form a first impression of a Web site based on its design within 50 milliseconds, and that first impression impacts subsequent decisions such as making a purchase.
Your site’s ability to convert visitors into customers begins with trust, and trust cannot be established if visitors do not remain on your site long enough because they are quickly discouraged by its poor design and usability.
You may be saying to yourself, “but if I didn’t have a Web site for that user to find in the first place, I would have lost them as a customer as well.” While that is true, you would not have compounded the loss of that customer with a poor first impression, only making it more difficult to acquire that customer in the future.
Are You a Professional Service Provider?
This is especially true for professional service providers, such as attorneys, physicians, and accountants, where credibility is paramount. Because professional service providers offer important and expensive services, potential customers are willing to invest more time researching them before making a purchase decision. Much of this research will be performed online, starting with the professional service provider’s Web site.
Let’s say someone is in need of an attorney. So, they do a quick Google search, and find two attorneys in their area that meet their needs. Both attorneys have the exact same information on their Web sites, graduated from the same school, charge the same hourly rate, and have the same amount of experience. The first attorney, attorney A, has what appears to be a very well-designed Web site. While the other attorney, attorney B, has a Web site that looks a cheap and outdated. After viewing both attorneys’ sites, the prospective client asks herself, “Can I trust this information? Is this attorney credible?” Given this situation, which attorney would you call first? Most people would call attorney A first, because attorney A successfully differentiated herself from attorney B simply by appearing more credible and trustworthy. Attorney B may be a great attorney, but she never has a chance to speak with the prospective client because her Web site did not communicate effectively that she is a great attorney and worth the call. Furthermore, the prospective client may now have a negative impression of attorney B, impacting attorney B’s chances of acquiring that prospective client in the future.
For these reasons, your Web site may be doing your business more harm than good. A well-designed Web site that makes a great first impression on potential customers should be an essential component of any business owner’s marketing strategy, and professional service providers in particular.