Whenever I see this man in a photo it makes me laugh – I call him ‘Internet Man’. He’s everywhere. But why? People seem to think that he gives the impression of a ‘safe pair of hands’ and that he can encourage people to buy from them. It’s a personal choice, but he’s just another stock image that demonstrates a lack of creativity and, more importantly, a lack of authenticity.
Now compare it to the image below. You will immediately notice that it is a genuine image (taken on Waterloo Bridge). The point I'm making here is that it is so easy to get hold of stock photos from the likes of www.istockphoto.com, www.gettyimages.com or www.crestock. But the fact remains, when a browser, prospect or customer sees a genuine photograph they can see that you're normal!
And by normal, I mean that they can relate to you and your site and they feel a connection to you. As I've mentioned before, your purpose is to be transparent, authentic, and visible. You want prospects to warm to you and your business and by only using stock photos and none of your own images could tend to show a lack of sincerity. Not that it's intended, it's just how it comes across.
You could try using photos of you, your staff and your offices. The objective is to convey the essence of your company to the browser - the real you, no holds barred. But do use your discretion; it's probably best not to have photos of you and your staff at the Christmas party after a few drinks!
Graphic and Web Design for Business
The importance of design is often under-estimated by many businesses. We all know what we don't like the look of, but how does your business come across to new and existing customers? Design encompasses so much, from the look and feel of your business cards and letterhead, to the first impression of a website.
In a report on the BBC dating back to 2006, a survey and research by Gitte Lindgaard from Carleton University found that browsers clicked away from a website they didn’t like within 500 milliseconds - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4616700.stm - so it's important to get it right.
Whatever turns you 'off' must be a consideration when planning the outward appearance of your business. It's not only necessary to be visually appealing; it needs to be engaging too. Design, especially in B2B needs to be subtle, strong, and understated. Being bold and brash is reminiscent of wearing white socks with a suit!
It’s important to understand the link between good design and first impressions, starting with your logo and letterhead, through to all your communications with customers and staff. And it's probably also a good idea to get feedback whenever you can; what you like may not resonate with your prospects, so be prepared to make changes if necessary.
Don’t Make Me Think
Visual communications are like a market with traders at their stalls trying to attract the attention of the passers-by; the traders are showing off their wares and are trying to convince the passers-by that they need their products. The traders reinforce their attack with inviting and appealing body language, so says Bo Bergström, author of Essentials of Visual Communications.
This visual logic must permeate everything you do, including your website. To help achieve this, there is a book with the answer in its name - 'Don't Make Me Think' by Steve Krug.
As the title suggests, once you have attracted a customer, the goal is to handle them in such a way that they don't have to think about what you're saying or selling. KISS always plays a part - Keep It Strictly Simple. The fact is, many of us try to over-complicate our business design and never seem to put ourselves in the shoes of our customers. Next time you buy something, think about what made you buy it!
To make sure you're moving in the right direction, be sure to ask as many questions as possible and test your ideas before committing. Ask those around you what they think, ask existing customers and even current prospects - and most of all, keep it personal and don’t ask your mother, she’ll always tell you it looks great!
For us, design is about getting your customers to subconsciously acknowledge that you're the experts and of course that they should buy from you and no-one else!