What is your website personality?

By Christine Nelson, senior communications consultant, Ingenuity Marketing Group

Are you outgoing, reserved or just random? Websites also have personalities, and yours should make the right first impression.

In 1994, there were about 3,000 websites worldwide. Today, we hover around one billion sites. If your business or organization doesn't have a website (yes, there are some of you), you will be discounted in a competitive market. If your website doesn't really reflect the value you deliver, good luck convincing a visitor that your business is the best choice.

There is no telling the amount of business you may be losing due to the first impression of your website (or missing website) compared to your competitors.

Great websites attract, persuade and get visitors to take action. Bad websites get bounced. 

Let's look at three major website personalities online today, based on recent data aggregated from Forbes, MarketingSherpa, The Atlantic and Awwwards.

The random, outdated site

It's not 1998, but some websites still live there. Remember the tiny blocks of copy and blue-colored links and weird, cartoon gifs? If a website shows up on a mobile phone in an unreadable and tiny font, it's dated.

What does a dated site say about your company? It may not be fair or great timing, but here are the reasons you need a new website personality to avoid losing business and future employees.

  • Buying behavior -- consumers take referral research to another level through friends, family and millions of anonymous online reviewers.
  • Instant gratification -- no one will wait for your site to load or your broken page to be fixed; they have already moved on.
  • Competition -- the World Wide Web has created a worldwide market; so while "home sweet home" looks nice embroidered on a pillow it's an illusion. Just ask any 15-year-old girl who video chats with her peers in Iceland.

The reserved, traditional site

The traditional site is about communicating information and getting business done. These sites fit professionals and business owners who realize the importance of an online presence, but don't need the bells and whistles of cutting-edge design. Traditional sites have the following characteristics that take them beyond beige boardrooms. 

  • Immediate recognition -- home page copy explains the purpose of this site briefly and clearly, avoiding clutter and distracting animation.
  • Easy navigation -- responsive design allows ease of reading on any device; a navigation bar neatly narrates the elements of the site.
  • Engaging content -- built-in articles, video, infographics and reports sustain visitor interest and time on site to encourage action/purchase.
  • Contact information -- sometimes you just need a phone number; don't hide it.

The outgoing hipster site

This site is known for taking risks on alternative page design and presentation of information. Imagine a video blog and hand-drawn elements in the design. Alternative photos of staff showcase their interesting personalities.  

Hipsters know that a website is a place to get noticed, differentiate and quickly get visitors to request information. They want to attract like-minded customers who value interaction, beauty and speed. Here are a few hip design trends. 

  • Card style -- a page laid out in a grid or blocks for visual interest, giving visitors more choices to click through.
  • The long scroll -- one solid page that tells a story about the company as you keep scrolling down: hello, about us, our services, call us!
  • Hero image -- a gorgeous photo that takes up the majority of the page and creates an emotional connection to the site. 
  • Vibrant animation -- designed to minimize upload time and boredom, showing a 360-view of a product, taking it apart or demonstrating that a magical process is underway to "create" a result for you based on your feedback (please be patient while we design your new kitchen!).

If you want a better idea of your web personality, survey your clients and ask them what could make their experience of your website better. If they aren't even using your website, you'll know it's time for an online personality makeover.

Christine Nelson is a senior communications consultant and media strategist with Ingenuity Marketing Group in St. Paul, Minn., who has written dynamic copy for websites since 2006. Contact her at christine@ingenuitymarketing.com or @virtualprgrrl.