When you have a question you google it, when you need to send a contract you email it rather than fax it, so is it any wonder when most clients are looking to contract a company they search online rather than use the yellow pages?
We all tout the importance of first impressions, but many fall short in putting enough emphasis on their company's first impression - their website. After all, you wouldn't meet clients without ironing your shirt, yet some websites are filled with old clipart graphics, rigid structures and an overall level of quality is being surpassed in grade 6 computer classes.
As the face of your organization, your website should be considered as a form of advertisement. As such it should be an extension of your company's brand that conveys the professionalism and emotion you want a client to associate with your product or service.
Here are a couple of examples, showing that the website quality matters irregardless of the industry.
Which service would you chose? To what degree would you be influenced by the information in the text areas vs. the design when determining the professionalism of the organization and the quality of its service?
Here's the best part... Online it doesn't cost millions to look like a multi-million dollar organization. In fact the internet is the one arena where small organizations can be competitive with large organizations. A nicely designed website can significantly increase the credibility of your organization.
As far as being a form of advertisement for your organization, websites are most often more affordable than conventional forms of advertisement for attracting new clients. Unlike traditional forms of advertisements, websites can offer more information and act as an initial platform to which you can direct potential clients after handing over your business card.
A website will also allow you to take advantage of online advertisements. Most online advertisements only charge when someone clicks your advertisement and is directed to your website. That means you are guaranteed to get the first impression you are wanting when you pay and if you advertise with Google they use tools to ensure your advertisement reaches the customers you want in your area. Most often your advertisement will be flashed to a potential customer when they are searching for the type of service you provide, while conventional forms of advertisement will display your services to people while they are in the process of reading their morning paper.
To sum everything up, the internet has increasingly become the place where most of your potential clients are seeking related services. Your website is your company's first impression, so be sure that you dress to impress!