What Your Website Says about Your Organization

Thoughts on your virtual store front.

webdesignNary a day goes by that I don’t see a bunch of extremely dated websites.

I’m not talking about a good site that just looks weird on my iPhone. Rather, I’m talking about sites that sport the following:

  • MySpace links. (No, I’m not kidding.)
  • Both left and right sidebars, leaving the content smushed in the middle.
  • A text-heavy design. (Read: a lack of images, something that Pinterest has made extremely important.)
  • Ugly and inconsistent color schemes.
  • Really tiny fonts.
  • Background music. (Again, I’m not kidding.)
  • Confusing navigation.
  • General sloppiness.
  • Glacially slow loading times.
  • Overall busyness/lack of sufficient space.
  • A slew of missing images.
  • Broken links and 404 errors.
  • Cheesy ads and pop-ups.
  • Excessively busy menus.
  • Featured clip art.

I could go on, but you get my point.

Maybe questionable and lazy design like this was excusable in the early days of the web. As I wrote in The New Small, for a long time now, it’s never been easier and more affordable to develop a professional web presence. (Small businesses are not off the hook here.) Despite this truism, it’s evident that many organizations of all sizes simply don’t consider quality web design to be a priority. I suspect that plenty of them pay the price for it in the form of lost sales, customers, inquiries, general credibility, and even occasional mockery.

But I’ve Seen Other “Ugly” Sites…

Websites matter. Period.

Craigslist and Seth Godin can get away with extremely basic—and even ugly—websites. Remember, though, that they are the exceptions that prove the rule: Like it or not, your website says a great deal about your organization to the outside world.

Where to begin? How about the following?

  • Why not start with running your site through the Hubspot Website Grader?
  • Assess your site’s speed with Pingdom and look at its bounce rate.
  • Ask a proper designer for his or her honest opinion about your site. Noodle with WordPress or another content management system.
  • Take a look at your competitors’ sites and ask yourself how yours compares? “Not as bad” (read: sucking less) is not an acceptable answer.
  • If you’re curious about how your site appears on a wide variety of devices, Responsinator is for you.

Simon Says: Ignore Appearances at Your Own Peril

Websites matter. Period. That isn’t going to change anytime soon. Stasis is simply not an option. An ugly, dated, slow, and confusing website implicitly communicates to prospective customers and the public at large to prospective customers: You just don’t care about their experience.

Why would that change if and when they become actual customers?

Feedback

What are some of your design pet peeves?

philanimated

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