Consistency breeds consistency
Surprisingly, the most important part of good website design
has really nothing to do with what most people think. It is true that
they all play a big part:
- Minimal yet tasteful graphics,
- Plain, readable font,
- A solid contrast between text and background and
- A nice blend of colors based on a uniform color scheme.
Together, they do make a website look professional and credible.
But why are professional looks so important on the web? First, just like
its opportunities and benefits the limitations of ecommerce are just as
many. For example, one of them is surely the Internet's lack of tangibility.
An Internet shopper can not touch, feel, smell or taste a potential online
purchase. The second is the lack of familiarity. An online business may
be totally unknown and therefore untrustworthy to the new online consumer.
Since scams and snake oils are common these days and particularly on
the web, it has become difficult for anyone to accept anything at face
value -- at least, to a degree. People have a natural tendency to make
what I call UPAs -- or "unconscious paralleled assumptions."
In other words, when they see only one part of the whole they unconsciously
assume that a parallel exists between it and the whole. It's just human
For example, you enter a store that offers quality products -- such as
one focused on kitchenware. But as you enter the store you notice that
the shelves are unorganized and dusty, and that posters are placed all
over its walls (such as one promoting the latest blockbuster movie, one
announcing the latest car widget to hit the market and one marketing the
latest political party to run for office). Now, what will be your initial
Even if the store purportedly offers great products and provides good
customer service you will have a natural inclination to assume that their
products (let alone their customer service) will be just as disorganized,
unprofessional and lackluster -- and more than likely you will do this
simply based on your initial, unsubstantiated perception. Therefore, if
you wouldn't buy from such a store then why would you buy from a website
that is totally disorganized, plastered with banners and affiliate programs,
and terribly inconsistent from page to page? Consistency breeds consistency.
Stated differently, consistent looks lead to consistent sales. I am however
astounded to still see so many online businesses -- even reputable businesses
that sell quality products and offer good customer service -- on websites
that smack of being put together horrendously quick. In these cases, inconsistency
will preclude any sign of professionalism.
A question was posed in one of my favorite marketing discussion groups,
Nicholas Schmidt's Profit Talk, which asked: "Would you buy
from a site hosted on a free server?" It sparked an interesting discussion
to say the least. In here the poster meant those free websites like freeyellow.com
or hotyellow98.com -- or, as Schmidt put it, "The ones with those
annoying advertising frames popping up left and right, making it completely
obvious that the [company] behind the site is a one-man operation."
While only one answer was positive -- provided that the free site was
a referral from a trusted source -- the majority ruled otherwise. I agree
with the majority. Professionalism is not limited to the looks of a website.
For example, if an online business' domain name is long and cumbersome,
as is the case of http://www.geocities.com/eureka/concourse/7990/,
the natural presumption will be that the business is not making any money.
In turn, this will consequently cause people to conclude that the business
is not successful (or genuine, for that matter). Not good. (By the way,
I'm not saying this lightly as I speak from personal experience. In fact,
if you click on the Geocities link above you will understand what I mean.)
Nevertheless, in addition being consistent includes your marketing activities.
As Monique Harris of http://www.sellyourbrainfood.com
once noted, "Try to become a regular." If you frequent discussion
forums in which your target market congregates, try to post on a regular
basis -- over time you'll be recognized as an expert in your field. For
example, time permitting I actively participate in Internet marketing
discussion groups. Some of my favorite ones include the following (I also
strongly encourage you to visit them):
Nevertheless, consistency breeds consistency. Keep that in mind in all
your marketing efforts. It is the most important element of web design
-- or of online marketing in general, for that matter. Consistently project
an aura of expertise and professionalism, and you will see a big improvement
|About the author
Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter and consultant dedicated
to turning sales messages into powerful magnets. Get a free copy of
his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning," when
you subscribe to his free monthly ezine, "The Profit Pill."
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