The times of people creating websites just for fun are behind us. At this point, everyone with a website has some kind of business-related agenda driving it, whether they’re an ambitious entrepreneur running an online store or a professional hoping to improve their personal reputation. If you have a website, regardless of the type, people will inevitably view it as a reflection of your personality, skills, and experiences.
And if you’re running a business website, you can’t afford to be anything less than maximally invested in what it says about you. Providing a slow and unattractive site will quickly sour your operation and damage your future prospects. But what exactly will visitors conclude about you if your site is below par? That’s what we’ll consider here.
In this piece, we’ll note the three main issues that make website owners look bad, explaining what they lead people to conclude (and why you need to act upon them). Let’s begin.
Unclear branding hints at a lack of direction
When a visitor arrives at your site, it should only take them a few seconds to understand who you are and what you offer. After all, they may not have made a clear decision to seek you out: they may have casually clicked on a social media link, for instance, or found you in the SERPs while looking for something tangentially related.
So if your website is beset with unclear branding, many of your visitors will choose to leave — and those who somehow choose to stick around will struggle to form memorable impressions. They’ll conclude along the way that your business isn’t clearly defined and you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve. Who wants to invest in such a company?
To show that you have a proper plan for the future of your business, you need to present consistent design elements (ideally driven by a full set of brand guidelines: 99designs has a comprehensive guide for this), provide coherent content that shows meaningful personality, and make it as easy as possible for your target audience to connect with you (social media platforms — Twitter in particular — can be highly useful).
Poor performance makes you seem incompetent
When you’re trying to convert prospects through your website, it isn’t enough to simply have some relevant pages that’ll load eventually. Your brand would need to be something incredibly special to compel visitors to wait around for your content. After all, there’s a vast digital landscape of instantly-loading pages for them to enjoy.
Worse, having a slow website doesn’t just suggest a lack of budget: it suggests a lack of competence. It doesn’t take IT expertise or massive funding to achieve speedy load times. We live in a time of open source ecommerce, having ready access to highly-flexible systems like WordPress and economical managed hosting solutions such as Cloudways, so there’s no financial or technical excuse. Fall short of expectations and you’ll seem foolish.
If your website is slow, there are two possible explanations: it’s either poorly optimized, stuffed with excess content and incompatible plugins, or backed by insufficient hosting power. If you’re unsure, run it by a seasoned developer. They may recommend trimming it somewhat or swapping it to a new CMS, or you may just need to go up a hosting tier. Regardless, do what’s necessary to get the performance up. It’s a mission-critical concern.
An outdated design suggests you don’t care
Your website certainly doesn’t need to be flashy, but it does at least need to be unique and presentable. It’s very easy to spot when a site hasn’t been updated in a long time or hasn’t even been customized, and the obvious inference is that the owner doesn’t care. Surely an owner who cared would put time into making their site look alright — and if they’re utterly apathetic about their online presence, why should you believe they’ll provide a good service?
It’s particularly bad now that it’s so simple to make a decent-looking site with some custom elements. With the aforementioned WordPress being the default CMS for much of the web, the average website owner can choose from hundreds of creative WordPress templates to get started, then apply some minor tweaks (changing fonts, colors, etc.) for a solid website.
Sure, not everyone knows how to use WordPress, but there are so many guides around that falling to learn the basics suggests one of two things: you haven’t investigated sufficiently thoroughly to discover that such resources exist, or you haven’t put in the effort to take advantage of them. Either way, the implication of apathy remains.
By ensuring that your website shows direction, expertise, and commitment, you can position your business to deliver on its potential. If you’re falling short in any of these areas, make a commitment to improve. You won’t regret it.