By Mike Phillips, Senior Editor
They say you should always dress
for the job you want. It’s true — just
ask the FreeCreditReport.com hipster.
When it comes down to it,
those who look the part usually get
it. We live and work in a largely
superficial world. As marketers,
retailers and publishers, the perceptions
others have of our websites
and brands are inextricably linked to
our ultimate success.
How is your website design holding up these
days? Do you look amateurish next to your
competitors? Are vital links easy to find —
and do they all work? What about load time?
We do a lot of research around here. And
while information abounds, trustworthy
information is much harder to find. There
are times when I might come across an interesting
bit of information that warrants further
investigation. But sometimes that
nugget is buried in a pile of visual misery.
Lime green backgrounds with yellow type,
text that overruns the borders of the page,
flashing ads all over the place ... it all adds up
to lessen the value of the information on the
page. It’s hard for me to trust what I’m being
told when I feel like a sucker for looking at
the website in the first place — not to mention
terrified to click a link for more information.
A site like Wikipedia isn’t exactly a
beauty. But they have the luxury of being a
valued, known resource. You don’t.
More and more, consumers expect to
find your business in multiple places —
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and so on. Is
your Twitter background consistent with the
appearance of your website? It should be.
Take a quick look at every portal on which
your company has a presence. Is your brand
immediately recognizable, or do you have to
look for similarities?
Appearances must be kept. Avoid that
photo of you from college with the beer-can
pyramid for your Twitter profile. Keep your
personal Facebook profile far, far away from
your business page. And set up separate
YouTube channels — clients don’t need to
see a trip to the family fishing hole along side
“a message from the CEO.”
You’re a professional.
But its not just design; what about your
website copy? Pay attention to every word
published on your website and in your ads ...
or anywhere else, for that matter. Take your
time and read over everything you write. Use
a spell checker. Did someone on your team
major in English? Use them to proof your
You don’t need to be a professional copy
editor or possess the wit of Mark Twain. Let’s
face it — writing about products and services
isn’t exactly poetry. And, there are times
when a casual or conversational tone is
appropriate. But more often than not, that’s
not the case. The point is, if it’s used to discuss
your business make it business-worthy.
You wouldn’t possibly hang a misspelled
banner outside a brick-and-mortar store,
You’re a professional.
And what about your company’s most
valuable resource? In the end, you represent
your company. We might be connected by
cables and satellites these days, but most critical
times in business occur in person. Just
because you can optimize your SEO campaign
in your underwear doesn’t mean you
should carry that attitude to the next company
meeting or industry conference. Jeans and
loafers made you a forward-thinking maverick
before the dot-com bust. Now it just
looks like you’re another person with a getrich-
quick idea and no real business experience.
The same goes for your company’s
physical, personal touch points. Go ahead
and spend the extra $20 on the glossy business
After all, you’re a professional.