It's that time of year again for costumes, candy, and cool autumn air. Halloween is upon us. Thoughts of how to disguise myself and my children got me thinking of the getups I donned as a child when I hit the town for a night of chocolate hoarding. It helped me realize that, as much as I don't want to say it, looks DO matter.

When you look good, you do good... at least that's what people think. According to studies such as the one done by York College of Pennsylvania1, appearance plays a big role on what people think of them. In this study, 81% of respondents said that proper personal appearance had a great impact on being hired and 57% said it had a great impact on the perception of an employee's ability to perform their job duties. That's right, if folks don't know how well you are performing, they will base their assumption on how you look.

This importance of appearance can easily be applied to the digital world. Think about the kids who bring their "trick or treats" to your door. There will be some creative and thought-provoking costumes that will instantly crush you with cuteness and parents' thoughtful execution. Inevitably, there will also be those who are questionably too-old-to-be-trick-or-treating who have put minimal effort into their costumes. Websites you have visited can either wow you or make you question them.

One study2 focused to websites found that, of all the factors that could be mentioned for rejecting or mistrusting a website, 94% of the feedback was design-related. That is, how the website looks, functions, and feels (regardless of whether or not a company is qualified).

So ask yourself, is your company website going to elicit the visceral response that "these people know what they are doing" or are they going to question whether you're qualified to serve their needs? Is your website going to get the extra handful of candy or not?

Here are a few recommendations for quickly evaluating your website to see if you need to rejuvenate your presence:

  • Think back to the last time your website was updated. If it has been 3+ years, you are likely due for a refresh.
  • Take a look at your top competitors' websites. Are they bringing the "wow factor" with their look, function, and feel that you're not?
  • Take a look at your own website and see if any of the following design flaws apply:
    • Inappropriate name for the website
    • Complex, busy layout
    • Lack of navigation aids
    • Boring web design, especially use of color
    • Small print
    • Too much text
    • Corporate look and feel
    • Poor search

If after looking at your own as well as competitors' websites you are starting to realize that your appearance could use a boost, reach out to an objective subject matter expert. Contact a marketing agency that specializes in web design to get their initial thoughts on how you can improve. They will likely provide you some recommendations for free.

The ROI on an updated website may be difficult to precisely measure, but be certain that a new and well-designed "outfit" will earn you more business.

1 "2013 National Professionalism Survey." Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania, Jan. 2013.
2 Sillence, Elizabeth, Pam Briggs, Lesley Fishwick, and Peter Harris. "Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites." ResearchGate, 29 Apr. 2004.