All too often people attribute a poorly-performing site with its (to them, lack of) looks. They see a competitor’s site which they feel looks ‘prettier’ or ‘more modern’ than their own, immediately perceive that to be more successful, and want their own to look exactly the same.
This is a classic example of the grass being greener on the other side, with a bit of ‘eye of the beholder’ and a nod to style over substance thrown in for good measure!
In reality there is no way to know whether another site is ‘doing better’ just by looking at it — your site may in fact be the superior one and you don’t even know it!
Let’s examine possible reasons as to why this could be the case, or not.
We all know the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but let’s be honest and admit that we all probably do it anyway. Even if only sometimes! Similarly, people do and will judge a site by its looks, absolutely.
So yes, looks are important — to the extent that they may make or break a favourable first impression. But I’ll almost guarantee that you comparing others’ sites with your own on the basis of looks only, is you in the mindset of a casual visitor to that site. How does a customer compare sites? What do they see, and why are they there in the first place?
I can assure you as a mad plant-nut that I’ve seen plenty of old, awful-looking plant sites and plenty of pretty, modern-looking plant sites. And I’ve bought from the older sites just as much as from the newer sites. Without prejudice or favouritism.
Why? Because they have what I am looking for. If a site has a rare or unique something that no other site has, I don’t care how old or ugly the site looks, I’m buying that thing, and from that site, because that site and only that site has what I want.
In fact, you could make an argument that the older and uglier a site is, the more trustworthy and reliable it may be, because it’s been around a while and is still in business.
So while a casual, uninterested visitor may immediately click away to some other site, a person looking for information or to buy something is going to stay a little longer, regardless of how the site ‘looks’. This is because they aren’t there for looks, but for…
Content, the one thing that determines whether a visitor leaves, sticks around a little longer, makes contact with you, or buys right there and then. The prettiest site in the world may be the most devoid of anything of interest, and its looks won’t ever be enough to keep potential customers there. The simplest, most amateurish-looking site packed with the best content, whether information or products, will.
There is a caveat, in that no matter how content-rich your site is, your customers still need to find what they’re looking for! How good is your…
Search-Engine Optimisation and Navigation
These two elements are crucial in attracting customers. Optimsing your site’s content gets your site in front of potential customers in the first place, and once on your site, good navigation helps them to stay and explore everything you have to say. Broken links and information buried in obscure and poorly-labelled sub-menus are not the best ways to turn visitors into customers.
You may feel that your site isn’t attracting as much business as you’d like. But if you’re in a very small or exclusive niche, you may well be attracting the lion’s share of that tiny market and not realise this. Are enquiries and sales coming in at a fairly regular rate, even if only once a week or less? That’s actually a good sign, especially if you’re new to that market. It shows that there is a reliable clientele you can work with, and that you’re already attracting them. Consider complementary products you can add, or other ways to value-add and add revenue to your business. Keep at it little by little and you’ll be amazed at how a once-weekly enquiry or sale becomes twice-weekly, thrice-weekly, and soon, a fully-fledged sideline or even business. (We have a lot of experience with up-selling and cross-selling — get in touch for a chat! — and have a knack for thinking up ideas that aren’t always obvious to people immersed in their business.)
If you genuinely feel your site should be performing better than it is, please do look deeper than just its looks. Looks, after all, are only skin-deep. It’s what’s inside that really counts.
Do consider your customers and what they are looking for, and finetune your site to their mindset. Add content that speaks to them, and they will come with time. If you have what they are looking for, your site will be the most beautiful sight (!) to their eyes, and they will stay, and they will buy.