Website Priorities – Branding, Marketing or Functionality?

By this we mean are you more concerned with how a website looks, or how it performs as a sales tool?

We’ve helped build and repair countless websites over the last 15 years.  What we’ve noted though, is the constant, unending focus upon site appearance over all else. It is often ‘assumed’ by companies that if the website ‘looks nice’ with a strong message, then sales and success will follow, as it did with producing costly print marketing back in the 80s and 90s.

We’ve seen new sites where $10,000+ was invested over many months in the appearance and branding elements. Perfection was the goal. Yet the marketing of the site (traffic building) and how well it works (the functionality) was seldom on the ‘to do’ list or had any substantive budget allocation. It’s like we’re still in the olde 80s brochure mode with little understanding of how on line even works.

branding-functionWhy is there such a focus upon appearances and branding alone, when studies confirm that looks alone has such a poor return upon investment? My view is that people can see what they are getting with visuals. What’s right, what’s wrong in their eyes. Yes, a good design can help website conversions. But appearances help little when it comes to getting ranked or improving traffic or signups to your site.

There’s also a popular misconception that better visuals you have with these new fancy home page sliders, moving background elements etc improves visitor engagement, when the fact is it most often reduces it, turning clients off to you and your products or services. (Reference)

The infamous Call to Action statements

I see this added a lot to websites we build. These words at various places in the draft website design, yet it seems no one has a real idea what it is they are going to add until the last minute. In the end it’s often a link through to a contact form or adding in a phone number, with ‘call now’ added somewhere. These should be part of the sales funnel, yet many designers are often at a loss upon what to do. How to convert visitors into customers. This is a problem…

Usually the more you invest in visual design, the less traffic you’ll get…

It’s true. The more you focus upon looks and design, the less traffic and success you’ll have online, for a variety of quite technical reasons. It’s a bold statement that will have many traditional designers screaming, but is backed up by countless online studies and statistical data. Certainly design has a place, but it’s never the investment that guarantees any success online.

So, what’s important to you?  Are you more concerned with appearances and branding, or having a site that works in a sales and business sense. If the later is also important to you, then give us a call. If not, talk to your local graphic designer and go for looks alone, doubtless giving you that nice warm feeling inside, but little else. In the online world, looking good is never ever enough.

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