October 21, 2010
by Stu Macik
I had a new client ask me the other day if style and aesthetics really matter on a website or whether it’s more important to have a “good sales pitch” (i.e. well written, effective copy).
After some thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t think there’s really any way to quantify whether aesthetics or good copy is more important for a small business site because my experience has been that they’re both equally significant for success.
The problem lies in the fact that you have (on average) around 4 or 5 seconds to help a visitor to your site decide to stick around and find out more about you. This is where I believe that style and aesthetics can have a huge impact in that a great looking professional design can draw the visitor in to learn more about you.
It’s just a fact that “ugly” can spell doom when we’re talking about small business websites. Think about it, how many times have you clicked on an ugly website, thought “man, this site looks like #&@%” and left. It happens all the time.
The point is that having something that looks and feels clean and professional can buy you a little extra time to get someone to actually read about how great your products or services are.
So having a great looking site makes a huge difference right?
Well, only if your copy is solid as well.
Another fact of life on the web is that poorly organized and written content can confuse and drive away potential customers. If you can’t quickly, clearly and concisely make your case for why someone should do business with you, then any advantage you’ve gained by having a great looking site goes straight out the window.
This is a difficult lesson to learn because writing effective ad copy for the web can be a different animal than other forms of advertising. The constraints of time and space are completely different than say a print ad and so a lot has to be considered when writing your copy. It’s why having a solid Information Architecture (IA) and Visual Hierarchy as well as a firm grasp of your businesses strengths (in comparison to your competition) is paramount for gaining conversions and growing your business.
The bottom line here is that you really need both great aesthetics and solid copy to make the sale. The best way to do this is to hire a pro but if you’re doing things yourself I think the key is to not rush either aspect (design or the copy). Take the time to learn about what constitutes good and bad aesthetics (and copy writing) so that you don’t wind up creating an “anti-site” because…well because that’s NEVER a good thing!