This student blog series is written by third year Mount Saint Vincent student Tesa Court.

I’ve been spending more time than usual lately in front of a computer screen; searching, tweeting, posting, and writing, all the things required of an Administrative Coordinator. During this screen time I’ve come across an array of websites, everything from business to social media. This has prompted me to consider how I feel about websites; what makes them stand out, and what makes me shudder. In my search for information online I have encountered beautiful, well designed and catchy sites that encourage me to click, like, follow or buy.  I have also come across the opposite on more than one occasion; dark screens, terrible font, dead end links, and outdated information. This had me wondering just how much a website can influence the individual who is searching for a product or service. With 83% of Canadian households having access to the internet (Statistics Canada) I’ve concluded that now more than ever it is essential to have a well designed, easy to navigate and up to date website for your business.

First Impressions Matter

People care about your online image, a lot, in the same way they care about your professional image or store front. Your website is a direct reflection of your business and first impressions matter. People are hardwired to form an opinion immediately, one tenth of a second according to Peep Laja of ConversionXL. It is this instantly formed opinion of your site will determine if they stay to view, or look elsewhere.  A study found that visual appeal and website navigation were the biggest influencers on people’s first impression. 94% of participants in this study gave feedback about design elements, and only 6% about the actual content.(Peep Laja, Conversion XL) If a person doesn’t like what they see on the homepage they won’t continue to explore further, regardless of how great the content may be. In order to gain the trust of a viewer, good design is crucial. You’ve only got one chance at a first impression, so make it a good one!

It Pays to be Good

If you’re not willing to spend time establishing a good online presence people are led to question the quality of your work. The correlation is made before people ever step foot inside your business. 81% of internet users conduct research online before they make a purchase (Retailing Today). Just because your company sells products or services that can’t be sold online, don’t dismiss investing time in designing a quality website. A credible online image can translate into more sales for your company in store or online.  Your website sums up your company and if it lacks quality the assumption is so does your business. This goes for the traditional websites as well as mobile sites. 48% of users say that if they arrive on a business site that isn’t working well on mobile they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring (David Mutton, Margin Media). Create a website and mobile site that exudes your company’s personality, and quality. 

In closing, it pays to invest some time in creating an exceptional website, regardless of the size of your business. You don’t need to spend a fortune to do so; there are plenty of high quality yet thrifty options out there.  The choices are endless for what you can do; be creative, show your personality and let your website speak for your business.