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You never get a second chance to make a first impression. In the digital space, where the competition is only a click away, this old chestnut is especially true. But your web site sends signals to your audience beyond that first impression. We’ve discussed in a previous post the importance of decorum, that is, looking the way your audience expects, as a great way to manage that initial impression. Here we invite you to consider the subtler effects that a thoughtful design can have on your audience.

1. We are capable and thoughtful.

The temptation to save money on a web site can be great. Free templates and website building services abound, and the difficulty in choosing an affordable custom solution – “Do I need a web designer? A web developer? Am I getting my money’s worth?” – can seem like an unnecessary hassle, especially when your products or services are based in the physical world, or seem unrelated to creativity. After all, do we really choose a plumber based on the appeal of his logo? Consider that indeed we do. Or at least, we might not choose to call the plumber with the worst (or no) logo.

When your audience perceives your design as being deliberate and welcoming, your company appears thoughtful. When you have differentiated your company from the competition in an appealing way, you have subtly demonstrated your business savvy.
This isn’t always self-evident, so I invite you to consider your own experience. Have you ever been to a site with an arbitrary or obviously “boilerplate” design and thought, “If they don’t care about what they look like, are they going to care about my order/project/request?” Or worse, “Can I trust this site with my credit card number?” Even if you haven’t had these thoughts, consider what the impact on your bottom line would be if even 10% of your visitors did.

2. We understand you and care about your needs.

For as long as there has been business, there have been companies tooting their own horn, and touting their own expertise. The majority of consumers, however, are looking for a solution to their unique problem, and seldom is that problem addressed by a broad declaration of superiority. A customer-focused design is the first step in differentiating your business from the hornblowers and boasters.
While this may seem like a question of content, design plays an equally important role in signaling to your customers that you have value to offer. Presenting your product or service in a customer-centric way could be as simple as highlighting imagery of use-cases or satisfied customers instead of glossy product photos or your employees alone.

3. We work hard (to stay current.)

Remember what I said about first impressions? While an older office building or storefront may be quaint or appealingly ‘retro’ – the same can seldom be said of a website. If you’ve ever come across an older-looking page on the internet, you may have asked yourself whether the business was even still operating.
If your design is fairly modern, consider the advantages of regularly updating your design. It says to your audience that you are striving to improve their experience, that you are evolving with the times, and that yours is an active, thriving enterprise, that you work hard, and by implication, you’ll work hard for your customers or clients, too.

Having a website is a must. Having appropriate design is equally vital – to maximize the return on your design dollar, consider the signals you are sending, and to make sure they’re consistent with your goals.

We’re in the middle of a redesign ourselves. So let us know how our current design makes you feel or how you’d like to feel when you pay us a visit in a comment or by contacting us.