Is Your Manufacturing Website Making a Good First Impression?

In today's Information Age, a company's website is typically the first touchpoint someone has with your organization. As the digital face of your manufacturing company, your website is a brand ambassador and is largely responsible for shaping first impressions. That is a very lofty responsibility. And, with 67 percent of the typical B2B buying cycle now done digitally, how you are perceived online impacts everything from your reputation to your revenue.

What does your online persona say about you? What impression are you creating? Does your digital image breed the thought that your company is proficient, confident, and authentic? Or does your online image give the perception your organization is indecisive, ambiguous, or unreliable?

"First impressions are made in a mere 2.6 seconds."

If your website is projecting a negative first impression then it is time to focus on managing your brand. According to the Image Consulting Business Institute, image management is the "ongoing, pro-active process of evaluating and controlling the impact of your appearance on you, on others, and the achievement of your goals."

In a world where first impressions are made in a mere 2.6 seconds, it is important to the success of your business that your web design, layout and content are well integrated to leave a favorable result. Otherwise, the user will leave your website almost as quickly as he came and your business will lose an opportunity to make a connection. 

Creating a Positive First Impression on your Website

Most of us can agree that manufacturing companies are considered innovators and difference makers. However, while they may be at the forefront of innovation, most of their websites and digital presence aren't indicative of their cutting-edge progress. In fact, they tend to be antiquated and outdated.

Your website is your biggest and brightest sales representative, but he might not be dressed for success. Now is the time to invest the proper resources to empower him to succeed by looking at the framework for first impressions:

Clothing

This is likened to the web design of your site, more specifically the color, images, typography and brand. It's 2017 so there is no reason your site should be dressed like it's circa 1999.

The old adage "don't judge a book by it's cover" unfortunately doesn't hold true in the digital world with web design. With that in mind, be thoughtful and strategic with the web design because it does solve business challenges and can create deeper connections with your audience(s).

Our clothing is an outward expression of who we are. We meticulously choose our clothing to align with our personalities, and just as every human is unique and different, so is every business. What does your web design say about your company's personality? Is that how you want to be projected?

Grooming

This relates to keeping the site clean, organized and maintained. The site shouldn't be disheveled with content, graphics, imagery and pages haphazardly placed.

One of your company's responsibilities is to solve your audience's problems and to make their lives easier by enlisting your service or product. How can you accomplish this successfully by grooming your site? Firstly, the navigation of the pages and how the site is laid out should be well arranged and intuitive to guide the user's experience. Secondly, your website needs a little TLC just like your carefully manicured beard. The site is a living, breathing entity that requires maintenance and upkeep.

Body Language

This refers to nonverbal communications through gestures and movements. This is a very important form of communication because we are able to glean a person's intention through his deliberate or unconscious posture, expressions, eye movement and use of space.

A website's body language can be translated in several ways. You can direct the user's eye to the intended path and guide his eye to important information through the positioning of the elements and their visual weight on a webpage. The more important items will naturally be given greater dominance in positioning and weight. Likewise, you can use visual cues (like arrows, color and captions), subtle animation or small movements to draw the user's focus to intended elements.

These web design tactics help to evoke emotion and aid in the overall user's experience on your website just as people's body language plays a role in your first impression of them.

Etiquette

Etiquette is defined as a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior. Following proper etiquette on a website is very important to gaining a user's trust. Here are a few examples to help illustrate the significance of how a site functions relates to its credibility:

  1. If a user clicks on a link and it is broken then you have not fulfilled his expectation and this is very frustrating to a web user.
  2. If a user provides contact information in exchange for a piece of valuable content such as an eBook or whitepaper but you fail to make good on the exchange, the user will be annoyed to say the very least.
  3. If your site is down and a user can't navigate to it that gives an impression that you are unreliable.
  4. If a user goes to your site via smartphone but it doesn't have a responsive web design, the user will not have the patience to continue to consume the content.

In this digital era, users have certain expectations on how a website should function and perform.

Communication

The dictionary defines this "as a means of making a connection, of imparting or exchanging of information, of expressing your idea or thoughts." All the elements of your website — from the graphics to the imagery to the copy — communicates something to your audience. So ask yourself…

  1. What story does your website tell?
  2. What message does it convey?
  3. Does it communicate why your service or product is better than the competition?
  4. Does your website accurately describe who you are and what you do?
  5. Does it give users a reason to want to inspire change and to take action?

You Only Get One Chance to Make a First Impression with Your Web Design

Each day welcomes the opportunity to put your best foot forward so let's start dressing our best sales rep — the company website — for success this year.


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