In today’s hyper-connected world where 90% of people go online to research whatever they need, whether it’s a new mobile phone or a mechanic, your website is one of your most valuable assets.
When it comes to you brands communication and expression, the website is its #1 vehicle. It is often the first point of contact that your potential audience has with you, and to say that audience is quick to judge is a massive understatement.
You’re Being Judged
Todays audience is so hyper judgemental of websites that they are unimpressed by default. If you cannot convince them inside five seconds that they should stick around to find out more, they’re gone, with a bad taste in their mouth of their first interaction with your brand.
Here are some jarring statistics to drive that point home.
Your website is not a static asset that sits in the corner until you need it. Often it is the first point of contact and the face of the business. It is built on a framework of code in an ever-changing landscape and because of that, it needs another level of care and maintenance when compared to other business assets.
Often the business owner is aware that the “website problem” exists but demotes it time and again to the back burner list. In doing that, every visitor that arrives is suitably unimpressed and you have likely lost a potential customer.
If your website was created on or before 2013, you probably don’t need to be told it needs updating. If you’re still on the fence, however, use the checklist below. If you tick any of these points, you’ve got your answer.
#1 You’re embarrassed to share it
If, when you hand out your business cards, part of you thinks ‘I hope they don’t go to the website’, it’s time to change your website. Every touch point with a client is another opportunity for you to convince them that they are in good hands.
If you’re fearful of them visiting your site, not only is it not taking the opportunity, you are likely doing the opposite and placing doubt in their minds that wasn’t previously there.
If, when handing out your business cards, you couple it with a disclaimer about your website such as ‘The site is currently going through a redesign’, or something to that effect, then you should follow your own advice.
Lack of confidence in your site is a dead giveaway that it’s not only loosing you business, but that it’s damaging your brand. If your brand is not aligned, that causes confusion, which leads to distrust, which is not how you want your audience to feel about your brand.
#2 It’s not optimised for mobile
Part of an evolving business is growth and as a brand grows, every aspect of that business must pull its weight in order for the business to move to the next level. One of the most common areas to lag behind the rest is the brand’s site and considering the revolution in today’s digital world, the excuses are running out… fast.
A website that is not optimised for mobile is an advertisement to the outside world that attention to the fine details are not a big part of your brand. Regardless of the industry you are in, whether it’s construction, wood chipping or baking, the public at large are using their phones for browsing.
Mobile has overtaken desktop for most searches through Google and there are more mobile-only users than desktop-only users. Users today are to the point of being offended, if they arrive on your site and it’s not responsive. Further than that, they expect an experience that has been specifically designed for use on the exact screen size they’re using.
That means that if your website is not built with responsive design and responsive development that can adapt seamlessly to any screen size, the lions share of your visitors will not even give you a look in. “Shame on you for expecting me to resize anything!” is usually the thought process.
As brands evolve and grow business owners need to be mindful of areas hampering that growth. If your website is not mobile ready, it’s hampering your growth.
#3 Your site contradicts your promise
Often, a brand promise usually revolves around providing the solution to their clients in a way that represents quality and attention to detail. Even if you do not offer a literal promise, in simply having an offer, there is an implied promise that you will come through with whatever your solution is with a certain degree of quality.
A website that looks like it has been left to grow moss (that is exactly how dated websites look), advertises the wrong message to the visitor. Instead of making a statement of intent that ‘we are a brand that pays attention to the fine details”, it is saying “we cut corners on our own business now trust us with yours”.
Ok, so that might be a little harsh but there is certainly some truth in it. If a researcher is on the lookout for a new product or service and they find two options at the same price point yot one has an up-to-date modern look and feel to its user experience, while the other looks a bit clunky and dated, there is only one brand that is getting that business.
The feeling is this. If you cut corners in your own business, then where else are you prepared to cut corners? It might not be true, but its reasonable doubt and as far as the consumer is concerned, that’s enough.
#4 It’s Bouncing Hard
If you don’t know your analytics bounce rate, then Stop! It might not be enjoyable reading but if 90% of your visitors are arriving on your site and leaving within the first three seconds, wouldn’t you want to know?
Here is a useful article to get you up to speed on your understanding your bounce rate.
Your website is your shopfront. If you don’t take care of it, people will immediately be put off. If the front of the shop is looks cluttered like it hasn’t been swept in a while, chances are the inside of the shop is the same.
When it comes to your brand’s number one vehicle for communication and brand expression, anything other than a clean and kept shopfront with a welcome mat, is getting a walk-by (or a bounce-back) every time.
Treat yourself brand one of your own clients, don’t cut corners and show it some service.
At least if you know that is happening you know you have a problem. If your car starts making a strange noise and begins bellowing smoke from the engine, you are likely going to stop and find out what it might be.
Opening the hood of your car at that point is more likely going to reveal something you don’t want to see, but what’s the alternative? To continue to drive with blissful ignorance? That only goes one way.
If you have no idea what your bounce rate it, you should stop and open the hood to check the damage. If you don’t know how to open the hood, then ask for help. Whatever you find, it’s better to know than to keep your head in the sand.
Stephen is a passionate Brand Creator and Founder of Iconic Fox Brand Agency. With a background in both financial markets and design, he is well positioned on brand strategy and creative and is passionate about both. Stephen has been featured on Marketo, Hubspot, Inside Small Business, Creative Bloq and more for his expertise on brand strategy and creative.
He’s also a friendly chap so if there’s something you want to know about brand, he’d be happy to get into it with you