Once upon a time (last Thursday), in a land far, far away (East London) lived two bakers, side-by-side.
The first was a cheery bloke and a fantastic baker. He was new to the community, but was always ready to greet people with a beaming smile under his big, bushy moustache.
The second baker was also well-known, but for all the wrong reasons. A cantankerous stalwart of the community, everybody knew all too well to stay clear when the man with the permanently soiled apron stepped out with a grimace. Which was most days.
As it turned out, the second baker also made superb bread. After all, you don’t keep a bakery for as long as he did without being able to bake well. But business was grindingly slow for the second baker, who held a deep resentment for the first baker’s booming trade. He blamed the downturn on his counterpart’s flouncy shop and saccharin attitude, stoically refusing to change his ways because, after all, you don’t keep a bakery for as long as he did without being able to bake well.
The second baker was right. The first baker had a beautiful shop. His sparkling windows were full of big wooden crates with clear, beautifully hand-written labels and overflowing with fresh goods, globally inspired – spindles of baguettes, thick, artisan sourdoughs and extravagant cakes. His door was always open – a gentle hum of unobtrusive Motown enlivened the ambience – his shelves were always full and the pastry section was a sugary dreamland. Not to step inside was an insurmountable test.
But the second baker stubbornly neglected one important thing – to take a long, hard look at his own store. Sure, his baking was top notch. But the bakery was dirty, dusty and scant. Several bulbs were out and the dinginess was a far cry from what could be conceived as mood lighting. The inviting smells of whatever breads he did bake could do little still to cut through the general malodour, and even then the customers that did dare enter were served from a store room at the back. One had the distinct feeling those few customers simply felt pity for the second baker, as by and large everybody was drawn to the sights, smells, sounds and smiles of the first. The first baker’s bread kept his customers coming back, but it was the design of his shop that brought them in in the first place.
Bad web design costs
And this is the thing. Over the 14 years I’ve been a web designer I’ve heard clients say, time and time again: “I can’t invest too much on making pictures pretty, I don’t have the budget and my product/service is good enough to sell by itself. It doesn’t need fancy colours to make it sell.”
Give it some time and I see the same people come back with a complete change of heart.
How many times have you been searching for something on the internet and you’ve landed on a horrific page where things fly around, you can’t find anything, you don’t really get the purpose of the website and flashing banners threaten to induce a seizure?
What happens then? You leave the page and start looking for something more appealing.
Take it from me, bad web design can cost your business a lot of money in lost customers; it is confusing and drives clients away. Often it costs you more than it would be for you to invest in some good design, and 2014 is the year that web design makes a sweeping shift. If you’re still not convinced, consider a few of these stats.
The image you want your business to project can be utterly scuppered if it’s promoted by shoddy design work. I’ve witnessed this first-hand too many times, and by good companies with high-quality products. It doesn’t matter how good the product is if the company is perceived as amateurish by design alone. In short, the cost is trust.
Good web design is much more than choosing the right colour or font, or being able to draw a cute picture. Good design is thinking about your product and your customers. If a really strong message is hidden, no one will see it. You might have amazing content, but if it’s badly displayed then no one will bother reading it.
Good design is about opening the door to your customers, giving a smile, taking their hand and walking them through your products. Open their eyes to your inviting, overflowing bread baskets. Make them salivate at the atmosphere, the smells and displays. Let them see the beam on your face and your enthusiasm through the ways you explain your bread, how it’s made and why they would want to eat it. Prepare their palate.
If you want to attract, make everything attractive. I know you have faith in your content or your products, but when it comes to your design budget, believe me, you don’t want to do anything half-baked.
And just in case we’ve whetted your appetite and you can’t get to East London, here’s a beautiful example of a bakery blog, simply and impeccably presented online, and full of baking ideas for you to try at home. Thanks, Kate!