Professionalism - Part 1

Are you professional? Do you conduct yourself in a professional manner? What does that look like to you? Do you convey a sense of professionalism to others? You may well be very, very good at what you do for a profession, but that level of skill needs to be reflected in everything about you and your business, or else potential clients may not believe you are professional.

Wouldn’t you agree that someone who exhibits professionalism is more likely to be regarded as more competent, be afforded more opportunities and in the end make more money than someone who does not come across as professional by comparison? Wouldn’t it make sense to come across as professionally as possible in every aspect of your work life? And, since much of business success is a result of off-hours activity, wouldn’t you want to carry that air of professionalism with you as part of your personality?

Why is it, then, that so many business owners seem to have trouble with this concept?

Lets start this series by taking a look at the first experience most potential clients have with you, your website.

Website Professionalism

The first contact a potential new client has of your business is often your website. A business’s website is the first point of contact for 94% of new clients looking to do business with you. It is the all-important first impression.

I cannot tell you how often I have landed on a small business owner’s website only to find something apparently built by the neighbor’s kid or a well-meaning husband or wife. Design that screams cheap with navigation that is totally confusing, links that are broken, images that are not sized to load quickly; and maybe even a Contact form that doesn’t work…ouch!

What does that website immediately say about the business and the business owner? It says “I am cheap” “I don’t want to invest in myself” “I don’t care what you think”…and worst of all: “I am not professional.” Who would want to work with that person? If you have a website that is anything but top quality, you are losing business. It is time to have a professional review done.

It appears that sometimes business owners think of a website as something that they are supposed to have, but don’t really think it is all that important. Please, if you fall into this group you need to stop – think – and gain a new perspective.

That perspective is this: Your Website is Your Business. It is the first thing potential customers come in contact with. It tells them who you are, what you offer, and why the person should want to do business with you. Your website works for you 24/7/365 as the official Greeter for your business. You aren’t there at 10PM on a rainy night when a new customer comes looking around…but your website is.
So, think…what is it saying about you?

Following are some of the things that would be evidence of a Professional Website:

  • It loads quickly; in a matter of seconds or less.

  • The Home page is uncluttered and easy to understand.

  • The design shows a high degree of professionalism and is suitable to the business type.

  • Navigation is simple, intuitive and gets you where you want to be quickly.

  • There are social media links.

  • Information is current and useful. If there is a blog, the most recent post is no more than two weeks old.

  • Images are sharp and professional, not snapshots or grainy.

  • Contact information is readily available and the phone numbers and contact forms actually work.

These are just a few of the more obvious things that contribute to a site visitor having a good first impression of your business. A website professional can address a number of other issues you may not know about that can affect your website.

Hallmarks of an Unprofessional Website that reflect poorly on the business include:

  • Long load times indicating cheap hosting, poor design and oversized graphics.

  • A home page that resembles a family’s refrigerator door, complete with magnets and artwork.

  • A design that is immediately noticeable as a “free” site or, at the least, an amateur site.

  • Navigation that is confusing, takes time to figure out and worse, changes page by page.

  • It is an island…no links out; no social media; just “a website ‘cause I had to have one.”

  • There is really very little useful information and the blog has two posts; the last one is from 2010.

  • The images are obviously taken from other sites or are snapshots taken by the family “pro.”

  • The phone is answered by an answering machine circa 1983 and the contact form is broken.

Chris Bachman ©2013