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Looks do matter

img011You may have the greatest service in the world, but sloppy design will always destroy your credibility with prospects.

Every day I meet another great entrepreneur that will never succeed because they tried to save a buck on web design. 

It’s not a matter of design snobbery, it’s a question of credibility. 

How can I trust you to do good work for me if you can’t present yourself properly? It’s like showing up to a job interview in dirty pajamas.

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  1. Frank Roche May 6, 2008 at 5:45 am #

    Great visual to make your point. Wow…I had to stare at that one a whole to get all the laughing out of the way.
    Excellent, as always.

  2. Simon Synett May 6, 2008 at 7:20 am #

    I do have some sympathy for someone who has a great product or service but doesn’t feel the need or see the point in the presentation. I’d give this fellow the benefit of the doubt because he may be very attentive to details and sensitive to individual needs; he just feels that “externals” don’t matter as much as the real heart of the matter.
    What drives me mad is someone who clearly spends a lot on design and prominent advertising but leaves ridiculous spelling mistakes in the sales letter or advert. Now this guy I can’t trust to attend to details and get things just right.

  3. Maurene Caplan Grey May 6, 2008 at 7:29 am #

    When I was a teenager, a “fix-it” shop opened in our neighborhood. Their tagline–which was posted on their front door and in their grand opening flyers–read:
    Eficiency is our policy
    ‘nuf said.

  4. noelle May 6, 2008 at 11:19 am #


  5. Craig Kistler May 6, 2008 at 1:02 pm #

    I’ve written about how web design effects customers a few times on my site.
    The challenge I see is that most small businesses don’t plan on spending money on the design aspects of their business. As such it is very difficult for them to see the value in design an understand how it will help their business succeed.

  6. Chris Posey May 7, 2008 at 2:08 pm #

    Nice sign. “…and did I catch a ‘niner’ in there?”
    Recently I noticed a nearby pizza restaurant (that I have blogged about before) had gone and taped black electrical tape over a price they had been previously advertising on some cheap plastic realtor-type signs that litter their front lawn. Very impressive. I don’t know how people do not realize that the stronger statement companies (and, apparently, independent roofers) are making with these advertising “initiatives” is much more negative than positive. Nice post Andy.

  7. Jake McKee May 8, 2008 at 9:44 am #

    Clients don’t often understand at first why I might spend a seemingly big amount of time with them talking about their Web design and perhaps their actual Web functionality as part of a community strategy project.
    But as you point out, it’s about credibilty but also about sharability, both of which are interdependent. Nobody wants to share a site or ask a friend to join/participate if the site is so ugly it has questionable credibility or if the site is so confusing to use that it’s not easy to pass along to a friend.

  8. May 8, 2008 at 9:31 pm #

    Thank you Andy for posting this. It’s so important to spread the word. I wrote an article titled, “Design Matters in our Visual Culture” where I state the somewhat obvious…
    # # #
    Yes, design does matter!
    When you meet someone you hope to date, don’t you want to make a good first impression? You want to be in nice clothes, have your hair just right and be in the right place at the right time.
    When you shop for books at the bookstore, doesn’t the nicely designed books attract your attention… let’s be honest, we do sometimes judge a book by it’s cover then read on for content?
    Your website can ruin or build your credibility. Which would you prefer?
    # # #
    It is easier to work with clients that value design in marketing their business. So, is it our job to persuade or educate clients who don’t have a budget for design?

  9. Trisha Cupra, Web Design Watchdog May 12, 2008 at 6:38 am #

    I’ve been using the dirty pajamas analogy for years. I’m so glad to hear you singing the same song. Why can’t people realise that credibility comes from looking professional combined with acting professionally? It’s that simple. I’ve set up a new website called ‘Web Design Watchdog’ just to help website owners with this exact issue.

  10. oddpodz May 12, 2008 at 3:41 pm #

    I was driving home from a meeting today and was hungry. I saw a sign on the side of the road offering BBQ Sandwish’s for sale at a shop ahead. Although starving, I did not think that would be a good choice. Spelling matters, too.

  11. Laura Roeder May 13, 2008 at 8:15 pm #

    THANK YOU! This is frustrating to no end. People say “well they are hiring me based on how good of an accountant I am, not how pretty my website is”. Guess what? No one will ever know what a great accountant you are because they can’t get past your god-awful website!

  12. Mayra Ruiz-McPherson May 16, 2008 at 10:52 am #

    Andy, thank you so much for this post. I see this all the time and as a marketing professional, it’s depressing to see lost opportunities due to non-credible, unprofessional branding such as this. It’s bad enough from people you would expect don’t know any better; but it’s much worse when you have high-level, educated marketing types contributing to this “phenomenon.” I call these C-level marketer-designer wannabees who “Designketers.” Unfortunately, there are many designketers polluting our eyes with the crap collateral they produce and breaking our hearts when they think they’ve done a “great job.” I wrote a fun article about “designketers” if you ever want to share:
    btw, *love* your blog!

  13. Benjy May 16, 2008 at 10:40 pm #

    That’s on a pole next to the Mr. Submarine on Fullerton, right?

  14. Tim Jahn June 1, 2008 at 11:20 pm #

    This has always irked me. Especially the signs like the one in the picture…how can people really expect anyone to have their roof done by someone who posts a cardboard sign on a light pole? Would the people posting the sign even respond to an ad as cruddy as that?
    Presentation and design will always matter. I don’t care what you are trying to do, make, or say…but the way it comes across and the way it appears will more often than not make or break it.

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