The Subtext of a Web Site: or, is that really the impression you want to give?

Business owners: your Web site might be talking behind your back. People naturally infer things from design, and the same holds true for your Web site.

Example 1: I was visiting a Web site recently for a company that is supposedly all about networking: connecting people with other people. But their Web site sends a very different message. There’s no personality on the site, and even finding contact information for the people in the company was a challenge. The design is outdated and the main point of their service is lost in hopeless clutter.

What does an old-fashioned, out-of-date Web site say for this company? Something like: We’ve gone out of business. Or maybe: We’re so far behind the times that none of this stuff matters to us.

Not good.

Example 2: Looking at the Web site for an event planning company. They’ve clearly used a pre-designed template and then plugged in some art and text. The Home Page has a black-and white photo that might be a party… or might be a speakeasy in the 1920s.The design is not exciting. The example photo is not exciting. Care to guess what the parties are like?

The subtext: We plan parties, but you might not want to attend them.

For smaller, lesser known businesses, the Web site is perhaps the first point of contact with new customers. These days, the first thing people do when they hear about a new business is look it up online. Whatever the core values of your company are, your Web site design and layout should support them. It’s hard to generate new business if your site is stabbing you in the back.