Judging a Business by its Cover

If your website were a book, would people want to read it?

“You can’t judge a book by its cover….”

You’ve heard it thousands of times. Maybe you’ve even said it. The saying has been around since the Civil War era, and has taken a spot in the Idiom Canon, so to speak.

This familiar phrase means that first impressions are not always correct, and one should look beneath the surface before making a judgment on something or someone. This is true, but the saying is popular for a reason: people do form first impressions, whether or not they should. (If this wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t need a phrase to remind us otherwise).

The thing is, this isn’t just true for books or people, but also for businesses. So, how can you use this information to your advantage when redesigning your website or renovating your business?


Judging Books By Their Covers

Allow me to illustrate. Take a look at these four (actual) book covers:

Face it: you DO judge books by their covers. People do the same with your business' website.

Which of these four books are you most interested in reading? I’m willing to bet that 1 or 2 jump out instantly while the rest (if seen on bookstore shelves) would be passed by. Why is that? You haven’t even read the summary on the inside cover.

Book covers give you an idea of what to expect on the pages inside. If you’re not a fan of thrillers, you instinctively know not to pick up that first book, because a suspenseful thrill is in there. Prefer a historical mystery? Book #3 it is!

I’ll admit it, as an English major (and as a reader), I’ve always hated the saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” The whole point of book covers is to get you to notice them, to get a feel for what type of adventure is inside. Publishing companies have entire departments devoted to selecting the perfect cover art, font, and design that will make a book more likely to be picked up, purchased, and read.


Your Business’s “Cover”

Many businesses devote a lot of time, energy, and money into making themselves “presentable” for the public. They put up signs, send out mailers, or put up billboards. But what’s the one place you would go to find out more information about a business you just heard about? That’s right: their website.

The thing is, you may be confident in your abilities and in your business. You might have a great product and super customer service, but customers need proof. And they aren’t going to buy based on your word alone (after all, every business calls themselves “the best”).

You dress up for a job interview or a first date to present the best possible version of yourself. Shouldn’t your business do the same?

Try looking at your website homepage with fresh eyes and consider what type of impression you’re making on potential customers. Does your website give an idea of what people should expect when they hire you or visit your location?

People will judge your business based on its cover (i.e. your website). Use the list below to help  figure out how your site is being seen by others.

  • Is it modern or outdated? (An outdated site looks like it belongs to a business owner who can’t keep up with the times.)
  • Is it efficient or chaotic? (If people are confused about where to go on your website, they might think you run your business the same way…with no regard to user experience.)
  • Is it organized or messy? (Throwing every piece of information you have in one place is the website equivalent of leaving all your clothes on the floor.)
  • Is it friendly or standoffish? (Helpful, relevant information draws people in, pretentious images and information—or lack of information—drives people away.)

Ask yourself: If my website were a book, would people pick it up and read it or would they wince and set it back on the shelf? [Tweet “If your website were a book, would people want to read it?”]

Your website is many people’s first interaction with you. Make sure the experience is a good one. Click here to review our “Web Design 101” series and learn about color & font choice, content, layout, and more.


Clarity Creative Group is a web design & internet marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. We think we’re the best at what we offer (just like everyone else).




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