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Successful Websites Go Beyond Skin Deep

Sometimes Being Pretty Just Isn’t Enough.

These days it isn’t hard to make a beautiful website.  Sometimes businesses don’t worry about those sorts of things, or, heaven forbid, think aesthetics don’t matter in their business, but oftentimes an attractive website just isn’t enough.  It’s like that beautiful girl in the bar – she looks great from far away but as soon as you try to talk to her you realize she can barely string a sentence together coherently, or she has an annoying voice, or some other deficiency that falls into deal-breaker territory.  For women, it’s the hot guy in the room who crosses that dreaded line that separates an attractive man from a total d-bag.

For websites, beauty is only skin deep.  Aesthetics don’t matter if your site:

  1. Doesn’t rank in the search engines.  If no one can see your beauty, what’s the point?
  2. Has weak, boring, ineffective, or incorrect content.  Did you check spelling? Grammar? Keyword choice? Format? Are you explaining what you do, along with the who, where, why, when, and how much? Inquiring minds want to know and it’s your responsibility to inform them!
  3. Isn’t shareable.  Can people share your content on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or subscribe in RSS feeds? If not, why did you create it in the first place?
  4. Isn’t tracking site data or analytics.  If a tree falls in the forest, does your site get any visitors? If you aren’t watching your analytics, it doesn’t really matter what happens on your site because you can’t make actionable changes based on user behavior.
  5. Is totally static.  Can’t make changes to your site? Can’t get your developer to pick up the phone or respond to an email? Then your beautiful site is largely irrelevant since it will look dated and the content won’t be able to compete with the dynamic competitor sites in your industry within six months.  If you aren’t on a CMS you have control over, then you need to make sure you have a developer on retainer that can make changes for you as needed.

Think about these things as you build or evaluate your site.  With my small business clients, I run into cases where sites tend to be ugly but moderately functional in terms of content, but there are always the sites that are lovely, but all fluff, no substance.  SEO in today’s world is all about great content, viable authority, and demonstrative social signals; if your pretty site isn’t built for that, then it might be time for a redesign or, more importantly, a reinvention of your functionality.