It takes one tenth of a second to judge someone and make a first impression.
For many people, a website is the first time they come in to contact with a company, so it needs to give a good first impression.It is exactly the same logic as turning up to a first date; you wouldn’t want to turn up looking like you aren’t bothered. For so many companies their website is an afterthought, something they have under ‘marketing activity’. To a certain extent a website could be considered marketing but it is so much more than a marketing space. The website is the company.
Now this may be truer of Amazon than a local plumber but this is how the world now works. As far as the customer is concerned, the website is the company and if it gives a bad first impression, they’ll go looking elsewhere, they aren’t concerned with who built it or why one feature is a certain way because of internal office politics, they just care that it is easy to use, looks nice and they can get the information they came looking for.
Without naming names, even some agencies (although admittedly not digital agencies) have some questionable website designs. I used to work with a well-known (brilliant) creative agency who did some amazing work. Their UK website was fine. Their US website is like a bad acid trip, or at least what I would imagine an acid trip, good or bad, would be like. Think of the worst MySpace c.2004 you have ever seen and then animate everything on the page so it is spinning around against a moving background. Ling’s cars is probably the only exception to this ‘bad website is bad business’ rule. Don’t view it if you have a nervous disposition.
If your website doesn’t match your brand, there is a problem. Apple is the perfect example of how their website reflects their brand, it is well designed, beautifully crafted and easy to use. They sell luxury high-end products so you would expect their website to match. Dacia, Renault’s budget car brand, sell some of the cheapest budget cars around yet their website is pretty good. It is a perfect reflection of the brand, simple, functional and cheap. Maybe cheap isn’t the best word to use but it does somehow match the brand well. Tesla, a relatively new car manufacturer, has one of the best automotive websites I have ever seen. When they released their ‘Model S’ car, they embarrassed a lot of the automotive elite and now with their website they are doing the same again. They are a company who clearly take digital seriously.
I suspect the reason these websites stand out is 50% who build it and 50% company leadership. You have to assume that the company leadership is aware of how important giving a good impression is. This is a responsibility which normally falls to the website.
A website that matches the brand is essential for any business looking to expand. It is also essential for businesses that are looking to even survive and continue doing whatever it is they do be it selling cars, computers, news, houses, anything. If the website experience doesn’t match the brand experience, customers get a false impression of the business and will probably go looking elsewhere if they don’t like it. The website is the company, for many customers it is the first impressions they will have of you and if it’s a negative one, they’ll go elsewhere.
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