Bad Design Hurts Businesses More Than They Realize

 For better or worse, the digital space is a largely visual medium, and that means that looks matter quite a bit online. Everything shiny and beautiful attracts attention while the plain and passe fails to attract attention or worse: it draws mocking criticism. Bad design can even make some prospective customers or clients instantly distrust your expertise.


Bad Design and Credibility


Before dismissing the idea as mere shallow nonsense, consider this: a 2004 study indicated that women researching healthcare information on primitive webpages and more modern sites often found the information on the poorly designed, outdated sites less credible than that found on the newer, better-designed sites. The study concluded that internet users tend to think that “poor design is indicative of an untrustworthy website.”


Of course, this is just one study, but it makes logical sense. After all, there’s a reason the internet has evolved beyond the chunky, flat graphics and blocky text of the 90s. If clumsy graphics were enough to keep the average internet user satisfied and focused, we wouldn’t have animated gifs and beautifully polished graphics.


Why Credibility and Design are Linked


This link between design quality and credibility may seem unfair at first—shouldn’t the content of the site matter more than how it’s presented—but in the case of the study discussed above, the outdated website could arguably be seen to represent outdated information. It’s easily argued that the women in the study were simply using the context clues available to them to make the best-possible decision about where they got important healthcare information.


When it comes to business, the idea of credibility and design being linked isn’t just about authority, though that likely does play into it. Good design indicates that a business has their finger on the pulse and is able to not only deliver what their audience wants but also provide a competitive product or service that performs better than the competition. A current, attractive design on a website or product package shows that the business takes itself seriously and is invested in providing a quality experience for its customers or clients.


Prospective customers only have a little bit of information to use in forming a conclusion about a business. They have your copy and content, sure, but that text is simply asking for their trust. Using good design shows that you have something trustworthy.


The Limits of the Design-Credibility Connection


While good design is important, it isn’t the only piece of the puzzle for a successful business. As we saw recently with the Fyre Festival fiasco, shiny presentation isn’t worth much if you don’t have the substance to back it up. While beautiful graphics and a cutting-edge website can get some people in the door and attract useful attention, it won’t build you a lasting and loyal roster of repeat customers. Good design, good content and a good product can all work together to help you achieve the success you deserve.