website graphics,ecovers,software box,virtual covers

"Website Graphics"

Do You Need Them?

A couple of questions that I'm constantly wrestling with are:

  1. Are website graphics really needed?
  2. Does an ebook ecover or software virtual cover make a positive difference?
  3. Should I recommend header graphics and use them myself?
  4. Is it true that a page with just plain copy will pull better results than a page with copy and graphics?

If I were selfish, self-center and simply interested in more business, I would ignore the above questions and promote the fact that "everyone needs website graphics" and you better get them now before the price goes up!

I can't do that because first of all, after being in a number of different businesses for more than 30 years, I have promised myself to be a man of character and integrity, and to build my business relationships based on mutual value.

Secondly, I'm a marketer first and graphic designer second. Therefore, I need to know...."Does it make a difference if I have nice looking graphics on my pages?"

I've read many opinions on either side of the fence.

The answer will be different for each site, bottom line....you should test to determine what works for your site.

Michael Fortin has an article entitled People Do Judge Authors By Their Covers, it makes for interesting reading. Michael takes the side of "first impression". An asthetically pleasing site with sharp clean graphics, no flash or animations and great copy.

Maybe I can explain the idea
best by using an example.

You're ready to add a large room addition to your home. You own a $400,000 home. You call 2 contractors for estimates, Contractor A and Contractor B.

You're waiting for Contractor A to arrive. He arrives on time. Looking out the window you see a clean, good looking late model truck pull up to the house. The side of the truck has his name and logo neatly painted and displayed. The driver gets out, he is neatly dressed, clean, hair combed and carrying a notebook and camera.

OK, next!

You're waiting for "Contractor B" to arrive. He arrives an hour late. Looking out the window you see a dirty, rusty looking early model truck pull up to the house and pulls halfway on the grass. The side of the truck has a magnetic sign with his name hand painted. The driver gets out, he has a torn T-shirt and overalls, clean, hair's not combed with a 3 day beard and he's carrying a piece of wood to write on!

Don't think these two stories are make believe. They happen every day. Although each man might be capable of building your addition, which one gives you the better first impression.

Allow me to throw one more factor into the mix. Assuming everything in the above example stays the same, imagine that you own a $50,000 home. As the purchaser of the room addition, your expectations, and your relatability to the contractor are going to be different.

I know this might confuse the issue a little, however, the point I want to make is "Your intended market will also respond differently to the appearance of your website. So...if I'm a well known internet marketer and I tell you that no header graphics work best for me and my internet guru buddies....you need to think that result through.

Just another way to look at it.

Could it be that the traffic coming to his site has already been pre programmed to ignore all the typical sales gimmicks along with the clean graphics.....could it be they just want to read the offer!

A website is no different than the above example. Take two websites, exact same product. You have a split second to make a positive impression.

Michael Fortin makes the following observation regarding split second observations:

People have a tendency to forge not only a lasting opinion based on first impressions but also a blanket opinion that pervades all other areas as well. The adage, "a first impression is a lasting one," is not only temporal (i.e., the initial opinion remains consistent and nearly impermeable for a long time) but also spatial. That is, a first impression is also a universal one.

Once again, read what Michael Fortin has to say about "text only" website copy. Could he be right, and could the rule apply only to those well known marketers in the internet marketing industry.

The thing is, it doesn't work all the time. It works primarily for those marketers who are known, have established credibility and have been referred by other people. But this doesn't bode well for new marketers and unknown website owners who duplicate this seemingly lackadaisical attitude toward design.

Lately, it seems most direct marketers, particularly new ones, are lazy and tend to use Dan's rule as an excuse to pay little attention to the cosmetics. While I agree that the copy is the most important part of a salesletter or website, I equally believe that in some cases, and perhaps most cases, good design increases response -- as what Clayton Makepeace said:

"If you're a business owner, marketing pro or copywriter, good graphic design is absolutely essential to producing peak response to your sales promotions. I've seen poor design cut sales by half or even more. Conversely, I've seen stronger graphic design bump response by 20% or even more."

Personally, I've always been a proponent of good design, as credibility is important to me and my businesses. And I've tried -- or tested -- clean, symmetrical, proper, appealing copy for my own websites as much as I can. Because I prefer to inculcate credibility, trust and professionalism in the minds of my readers.

Check out Michael's complete thought on this at: People Do Judge Authors By Their Covers

I won't lie and tell you I'm not prejudiced about using website graphics, I like them. In the end however, it will be completely up to you and the only way you'll know the truth is by testing the traffic at your site.

To Your Success

Scott Parat

As always, if you'd like to discuss a project. Please drop me an email at Support or you can visit www.spGraphic.com and browse around!