We get asked this question a lot with comments like, "but, isn't it all about the content?" Well, yes, but it's also about the design, especially when trying to establish credibility. These days it's hard to be taken seriously if your website looks tired and outdated.
Here's how things stack up:
BJ Fogg, of Stanford University's Persuasive Technology Lab, conducted a study in which he collected over 2,400 participant comments on the credibility of 100 different websites.
The top 5 categories:
- Design Look: 46.1%
- Information Design/Structure: 28.5%
- Information Focus: 25.1%
- Company Motive: 15.5%
- Information Usefulness: 14.8%
Design came in as #1 with nearly half saying it was the most important factor for conveying credibility. If your site is poorly designed or aging, it's time to think about something new because if you're not taken seriously out of hand, it's game over.
That said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So what constitutes "bad design?" Here are a few objective points:
- Navigation is hard to use
- Not mobile friendly (we expand upon this below)
- Not responsive (to work across a variety of screens)
- Text is too small or too dense
- Poor contrast
- Website is inconsistent or doesn't work in various browsers
- Pictures are irrelevant, tiny, or look really old (are you still using beveled edges?)
- Imagery is trite or cliché
- Colors are just plain ugly (okay, that's a little subjective)
- Use of old technology (e.g., Flash)
Maybe one or two of these could pass, but if there are more than three… you've probably got a bad design and may want to consider staging a "design intervention".
"I strive for two things in design: simplicity and clarity. Great design is born of those two things."
- Lindon Leader (designer of the FedEx logo)
Good luck out there!