Why strong web design is key in attracting new business

Many small companies and local businesses are still not effectively leveraging internet marketing as a means to boost their customer base. Simply having a website is not enough. With 97% of consumers using the Internet to research products or services in their local area (source: KelseyGroup.com), you need to ensure that your business is not only easy to find on the web, but that customers are drawn to you more than your competition. A huge part of this is making the right first impression with your site. What does the appearance your website tell people about you?

Image is everything!

We are often astounded by the number of great businesses that are highly-skilled at what they do, have invested much time and resources into perfecting their service, and have a loyal following of customers as a result, but let themselves down when it comes to attracting new business by having a poorly-designed website, or (gasp!) not having a website at all. To those of you who still don’t have a website… seriously? It’s not 1995 anymore, folks. Being absent from the web is tantamount to being absent from the universe. If you don’t have a site at all, people may assume you no longer exist.

Does anyone not
need a great site?

The answer to that question is a qualified “yes.” We were recently asked to evaluate the website of a successful, family-owned company here in San Francisco, Renstrom Plumbing. Setting the above question aside, what they have now is a perfectly serviceable website (no pun intended); it’s clean, well-organized and to the point. It does not, however, fall into the pro-level standard of aesthetic design that Angled End rigidly adheres to with all of its clients.

But then… it shouldn’t. Imagine you have a leaky toilet and no plumbing-savvy family member around to fix it. An increasingly small number of us still keep phone books around, and even fewer still use them to search for services like these. We’re all making liberal use of the Internet these days, so there’s a high probability that you’re going to be perusing the websites of a few local plumbers. Now, this toilet job isn’t rocket-science – you’re pretty sure that any reasonably capable plumber can take care of it in two minutes. So how likely is it that you will choose one who looks like they’re the best in the city, with a price tag to go with it? Not very.

This is where the generic food packaging concept comes in. Do you think those cheap-looking boxes of cereal you see on the shelves of your grocery store are cheap looking because they use poorly-skilled designers and printing services? Think again. Those products are packaged that way because the store needs for them to look less expensive, otherwise the target market won’t give them a second glance.

Are we shooting ourselves in the foot by showing you an example of who shouldn’t use our services? No. Because the percentage of industries or businesses for whom the generic-packaging principle applies is minuscule. You, the reader, are almost certainly not part of a plumbing company, and the likelihood that you would benefit from maintaining a mediocre brand is very, very low.

We thanked Renstrom for the opportunity to serve them, and then told them why we think their site is perfect just the way it is.

Yes, first impressions count

And for those of you who think having any old website is good enough: wrong. Let me make my point by way of a personal example. A friend of mine and I setup a lunch date a few weeks ago. I was in the mood for Vietnamese, so I did some online searching and found what appeared to be a decent place near her apartment complex. Denied! My friend insisted that we eat at the place right across the street from her. After checking their online presence, I was… skeptical at best. Let’s just say that they failed to convince me that anything they provided was of high quality, and their Yelp.com rating was only 3.5. But I gave my friend the benefit of the doubt. She was right, of course – the pho was outstanding, and what’s more, I loved the atmosphere, very brightly-colored and retro. It’s now my favorite Vietnamese spot, but I would never have discovered it if I hadn’t been dragged there by a local patron. This restaurant very nearly prevented me from patronizing them because of an online presence that gave me a negative impression.

Send the right image
to the right market

This restaurant’s first big mistake is, #1: not publishing their own website. Rather, they have a web page in an online restaurant directory. This gives me the impression that they are not doing financially well enough to host their own site, which in turn makes me believe they do not get a good deal of business (which makes it probable that they have lousy food). But that’s simply not the case – they are often busy even on typically slow weeknights. Mistake #2: no pictures of their amazing food! After all, we eat with our eyes first. How better to get the mouths of potential customers watering than with photos of beautifully prepared dishes? Mistake #3: their website has not carried over the modern, fun, colorful theme of the restaurant’s décor, and there are no pictures of the restaurant’s interior, so I cannot get a sense of the ambience by looking at their site. Being a trendy, professional 30-something (I like to think so, anyway), I not only want to eat good food, I want to do so in a place where other trendy, professional 30-somethings are eating. This business is clearly missing out on a huge opportunity to attract their target demographic by not playing up the fact that this is not only a great place to eat but a fun environment. This selling point would set them far apart from their competition and encourage even those that do not live locally to go the extra mile to give them a try.

You have all of the control

For those of you who think having any old website is good enough: wrong.

These principles apply not just to restaurants, but to virtually every business. You want your customers to be sold on your product or service before they ever enter into your place of business or talk to you on the phone. “Making do” with a sub-par website could, in fact, be worse than not having a website at all, as potential customers can be turned off by the image you are portraying of yourself via the website. Think about it: if a customer has nothing else to go on, they are going to base their opinion of your service and reputation by what they first see and hear about you. And unlike reviews on Yelp, you get to control the image you project from your website 100%, including highlighting the positive reviews customers and professional associations have bestowed on you.

Take action

Getting a professional looking website that conveys the right image and successfully speaks to your target market is cheaper and easier than you may think. A basic, 6-8 page website from Angled End costs in the neighborhood of $900, and you can be assured that our work is always tailor-made for your brand (we do not build from templates). We take the time to get to know your business and market inside and out before we even touch our design tools. This allows us to create a site for you that will immediately grab potential customers’ attention, highlight what makes you unique and give you a significant competitive advantage in converting a “shopper” into a devoted customer.

Sandy GansSandy Gans is Director of Sales and Internet Marketing at AEI. Feel free to contact Sandy with any questions, or to get a quote for a design or internet marketing project – sandy@angledend.com.