Twice this week we’ve had potential clients come to us asking us to make their websites look worse. This isn’t a request we hear that often, but it certainly is one that’s interesting and one that actually has legs.
How often have you been walking around with your partner, children or friend, and decided not to go somewhere because it ‘looks too expensive’, or ‘doesn’t look like your scene’? This could be a shop, restaurant, travel agent or anywhere.
What you have done is completely dismissed a business on your first impression; that restaurant could have been reasonably priced and to your taste, it could have been the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten in.
You, of course, are not wrong here as we all make judgements about advertisements and businesses all of the time. The responsibility here lies with the business and its branding. A brand constitutes more than a logo and colour scheme, but the whole way in which a company portrays itself, and if their brand isn’t correct, or if their target demographic excludes you, then it may not appeal. They can’t appeal to everyone.
In the real world you see this all of the time; RyanAir vs Emirates, Lidl vs Waitrose, Kia vs Mercedes; with each of these having their own distinctive brand aiming at a specific demographic. None of these are wrong, none of these are better than the others, they are just different.
The Ryanair brand, for example, looks cheap and cheerful and appeals to people wanting flights at a low cost rather than those with all of the extras. The brand matches the business.
Now we move online, and the big companies mostly have this on point as well. But where things get interesting is that many smaller local companies don’t.
The same principles apply to business websites. Yes, you can get a user ‘bounce away’ without bothering to look at your website if it looks too cheap or isn’t to their taste, but you can also get people turning away because your website looks too good.
Looking ‘too good’ could be that you look expensive, or could also be down to your strapline, wording, images, or examples of your projects.
It’s worth making the point that this doesn’t mean businesses should have a bad or cheap website with no attention to detail, far from it. Instead they should spend time and effort in making it appeal to a different market. This can actually be harder to achieve and therefore involve more work.
Consider an estate agent, who mostly sell two to four bedroom houses, but have managed to sell a couple of multi-million-pound mansions. If they use these as case studies on the home page, trying to get bigger business, visitors may see these and think that their three bedroom semi isn’t good enough, and may choose an agent who looks smaller and will put more of an effort in.
What about an artist who paints portraits from her home at a reasonable price; if she has an expensive looking website and gives the impression that she has a huge studio with multiple staff and a gallery, she could lose trade as she’s considered too expensive.
We all have a target market, and we all offer subtly different services to many of our competitors, and our websites need to reflect this. In fact, not just our website, all of our brand, or adverts, literature, the way we talk on the phone, everything.
Sometimes people get this wrong and have tried too hard to make themselves not only look something they are not, but push potential customers away because of it.
Our advice here would be simple. Firstly establish the clients that you want to bring in, what is their demographic, what do you want them to buy from you, are they in a specific sector? Then look at your website and other marketing materials with an open mind and ask yourself “do they match?”
If not, maybe it’s time to make some changes.
We are Webbed Feet, and we will happily update website built by others.