When you first look at a website, you get an immediate reaction – positive or negative. Good or bad. Like it or not.
This is based entirely on just two things:
- Is it beautiful (or at least looks good)?
- Is it appropriate?
It has nothing to do with words, because it occurs before anyone has read a word. It is the result of the visual impact.
This is the first and it may be the most important goal a website (or any marketing item) needs to achieve – to create a positive impression on the viewer.
If they see your website and they don’t like what they see, they are either gone. Or they start out with a lack of trust – one strike against you. Maybe two.
This is all the worse for this: They may have no idea why they “don’t like” your site. It is difficult to handle an objection not based on reason.
If you’ve looked at thousands of websites as I have, you know that a large percentage of them couldn’t be even vaguely considered beautiful.
Every day I speak with business owners who don’t like how their website looks. Often it is a brand-new website – maybe still incomplete. They are terribly disappointed, maybe even bitter towards the company or person they hired to do it.
How do you make sure YOU don’t end up in that position?
Artist or Programmer?
First, realize that we are talking about art, and art is done by artists. Not computer programmers.
When it comes to websites, artists are called Website Designers. They studied art in school. They’ve probably been drawing since they were 8. They worship the great painters of old.
BUILDING a website is a technical, engineering job. These are your programmers, technically oriented, code geeks. They are called Website Developers. They studied programming in school. They’ve been writing code since they were 11.
Now what do you think the odds are that one person is going to be really good at both of these things?
You do, rarely, find a Designer who is also very knowledgeable and good at Development. One reason for that: Art these days requires a lot of technical expertise. The premiere design programs, Photoshop and Illustrator, are immensely complex, with a nearly infinite list of capabilities. So code isn’t going to scare a Designer, if he’s interested to learn it.
A code geek who is also into art and can do good design, is far less likely. More in the unicorn category, to be honest.
Getting It Done Right
A one-man band website guy is probably not going to produce a beautiful website. The first skill he needs is to be good with the code of it, or he’ll never build a website that works right.
Now these days most people are building websites in WordPress and there are (no exaggeration) tens of thousands of pre-existing website designs (themes) available for WordPress, that cost under $100. So you think maybe that solves the art part of it?
But who develops WordPress themes? You got it. Developers. Because a theme is basically a skeleton of a website, it requires more than basic code skills. So the vast majority of themes are developed by people who are thinking of what the website can DO, not so much what it looks like.
I have also seen many decent themes used to build websites, absolutely destroyed by a developer. Because he’s not got a clue on art nor a lick of artistic sense.
The cure for this is actually pretty simple:
- Realize your website needs to at least look good, if not truly beautiful.
- Only hire people with an extensive portfolio of websites that look really really good, if not stunning.
Of course, this means you yourself can tell a beautiful from an ugly website. But I imagine you can. I will give you this tip. Look at a bunch of websites. Notice when they look good to you and when they don’t quite look good. Cultivate your artistic sense. You’ll start to notice the more subtle points that jar the eye and just don’t look right.
Budget comes into play because the number of cheap beautiful websites is essentially zero. But a website that drives away potential customers is too expensive, no matter how little it cost.
Then hire someone who consistently turns out websites pleasing to the eye.
I think you’ll be happy.