Ever wonder how you can make a great first impression when you “meet” someone new and you’re not even in the same place?
You’ve likely been taught that you only get to one chance to make a first impression.
And what if you don’t even know that you are meeting someone new? You might believe that makes creating a great first impression hard.
Or does it?
Because of today’s online world, you and your reader are likely to meet-‘n’-greet for the first time on your website. So your site needs to be designed to “put your best foot forward.”
Your ideal business partner
One way to view your website is as your 24/7, always-on business partner. Partnerships succeed when each partner brings their best skills to the collaboration.
As your business partner, does your website design and content authentically and comfortably represent your best self?
Partners play various roles in the success of your business. How do you make sure your website, as your partner, is “showing up” and doing its fair share of the work load? There are a few things that are important to know.
How did your new visitor find your website?
- It might be through
- Organic search
- Referral from a friend
- A paid ad
- Facebook live event
- Your business card pinned to a local bulletin board
You can find the above information from a number of sources. One common way is to set up Google Analytics on your website.
Yet, once your visitor is on your site, the focus shifts from how she found your site to the next question, what is her experience? This is where UX (user experience)/UI (user interface) design is important.
Is your business partner giving that great first impression?
- Did you, represented by your website, put your best foot forward to greet her?
- Did the site visuals (color, images, font, site layout) help her feel welcome enough to stay on your site long enough to find what she was looking for?
- Could she find the answer or product she was seeking?
By improving a site’s usability, we reduce the interaction cost, and thus increase the expected utility. But remember that the perception of the interaction cost (that is, users’ assessment of how hard it will be to use the site) is almost as important as the actual interaction cost (i.e., the real effort required to use the site): the perceived cost drives the initial assessment of the site’s expected utility. Thus, to convince people to stick around and explore deeper into the website, it is important to accurately reflect the quality of the organization and convey ease of use. If, at a glance, users do not believe that the site is worth their time and effort, then they have little reason to stay.
What is sustainable website design?
Sustainable website design is the big picture and the littlest of details. Just like meeting someone in person, your site needs to reflect you to build a relationship with your ideal reader.
Sustainable design is everything from your website’s overall visual look and feel—what you might call your branding—to its content message and offerings. It’s the navigation and how your visitor moves easily from one page to another.
It’s the ability of your site to attract the attention of, and guide your visitor on, the journey from a looker, to a reader to a buyer or raving fan.
When your site content and visual appearance align with—and reflect your—values, your site becomes an unique reflection of you and your work. You then have the opportunity to do work or sell products that create sustainability for you and your reader—work that you are passionate about and that makes a difference in the world.
Because when your reader resonates with what she sees and reads, she will feel confident that she is in the right place.
In those first meet-‘n’-greet moments, sustainable website design visuals need to “accurately reflect the quality of the organization and convey ease of use.*” Your site has to visually resonate with your reader or she will not take a next step.
That next step you want her to take needs to provide an answer. An answer that is both useful—it has the potential to solve her current challenge—and appealing—it has the potential to engage, delight, hold her interest long enough to connect.
- The answer she seeks in that moment will vary. It may be—
- a desire to be entertained
- a need for more information on a topic of interest
- a need for a service or product to resolve a stuck place
- a bit of code to DYI her website
Sustainable website design includes the details. The colors used for your site, the amount of white space or clutter, the density of text or even if there is constant motion from animated gifs or auto-play videos. All of these details evoke emotions that attract or repel in your site visitor.
How to help your website business partner show up fully
Now you know the power of a great business partnership with your website. Before you can endow your partner with sustainable attributes, you need to have clarity.
The following 5 steps can guide you to the clarity required to create a new, or evaluate and revise an existing, website so that it can be an effective partner who makes a great first impression.
A 5 steps to clarity process
- Make a list of all the qualities you appreciate about yourself. Include all the qualities that pop into your mind, even if you cannot see how a quality relates to your business.Write the list in a column down the left side of a piece of paper using a pen or pencil. I know, paper and pen? You’ll see in step four why.
- When you feel the list is complete (you can always add to it later if more qualities arise), draw a line down the right side of the column of words you just created.Read each word and write an opposite word on the other side of the line next to the quality you appreciate about yourself.
For example, you might appreciate that you are organized. A few opposite choices might be a messy, or chaotic. Or you might be good at follow up with customer inquiries with an opposite of not responding to inquires in a timely manner or responding timely yet without clearly answering the customer’s question.
There is no right or wrong. And as in the above examples, there may be more than one opposite. You can choose to list all opposites or pick one, especially if one word is a bigger trigger.
- When you have all the opposites to the words on the original list, read the word in the left column, the quality you appreciate about yourself followed by its opposite out loud. Feel how the words impact you. Make notes of anything that surprises you.
- This is where the paper comes in handy. Now tear up (or burn) the list. Tearing up the list releases the surface ideas of how you see yourself. It gets those ideas out of the way so you can find even greater clarity. It allows both your hidden gems and obstacles that affect sustainability to revel themselves.
- Ask two or three people, preferably people in your social circles who know you though are not close friends or family, to make a list of the qualities about you they appreciate. Collect the lists, combine them into one list, add any qualities about yourself that you perceive are missing.Repeat step two. Draw a line down the page and add the opposite words to the column on the left.
Now use your list of qualities as a starting point to connect with your ideal client. What are you good at? What are you passionate about that brings you joy? What of those qualities can you draw on to offer services or products that could delight, engage, educate or solve your reader’s challenge? We all search online based on a need.
Be a detective like Sherlock Holmes
Search for clues. If you already have a website, review it using your list of qualities.
- Now you know, in a clear and authentic way what skills you are both good at and passionate about.
- How can you translate your skills into services or products you can offer to support your reader?
- Does your website clearly reflect what you are passionate about in a way that let’s your reader know you can successfully guide her?
- If not, what can you change to reflect those values to connect to your ideal reader and customer?
Look for content on your website that clearly highlights the ways you can guide and benefit your ideal client to solve her problem. How many of the qualities and skills on your list that you and others appreciate about you are expressed on your website? A lot? Great, your website is “putting your best foot forward.” Not too many? Maybe it is time to revise your site.
If you are starting a new site, keep the list handy and refer to it so you can incorporate many of the qualities relevant to your ideal reader into your sustainable site design and content.
Extra credit to help guide your journey to a sustainable website design
Do a search for images. Could be online, in a magazine, from old photos, anywhere you find inspiration. Collect the images and create a collage or graphic using the images as a daily reminder of how you want to walk in the world.
Need help getting your ideal website started?
Now that you’ve done the 5 steps and have your list of qualities, you are ready for the next step. Not quite sure of the next step to translate your new-found clarity into your website vision? Download your free website strategy checklist to help you take your next step with confidence.