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Style V. Substance: Which Matters More?

July 31st, 2010 | Small Business | No Comments »

Remember back in high school, when the guys with the coolest cars got the dates (at least that’s how I justify my lack of dates back then)?  Then you flash forward 15 years later, and those “cool car” guys haven’t moved out of their parents’ basements (and still drive the same cars that they did in high school).  While the guys who had nothing better to do than study (as they weren’t going out on dates) now have good jobs.  It plays out with regularity with every generation — style wins the battle, but substance wins the war.

While substance is the valued trait at work and in our personal lives (or at least it should be), it seems with buying decisions we lose all grip on reality and defer to the “better looking” product or service.  Why am I going with this and why does it matter?  This shallowness really impacts small business and could be a security threat for online shoppers.

For small businesses that want to have an online presence, but can’t afford a top-line web designer, the choice is often to go with a standard design template.  So if you’re selling the same product, but your site doesn’t have the same pizazz as a competitor’s, and all other things are equal (like pricing and product), we as buyers will go with the “cooler” site. 

Why?  Because it conveys legitimacy.  If someone spends a lot on a site, they must have a lot of money because the site is successful, and therefore safe. 

And here is where the security threat comes in.  Just because a site looks better, doesn’t mean it’s safe.  In fact, those same “cool guys” from high school (that are living in their parents’ basements) have plenty of time to dedicate creating fraudulent/less trustworthy sites than a successful offline business person.  So once again, we go with what looks better, and don’t take the time on the businesses with substance. 

What’s the solution?  Well, this is KikScore.com’s blog, so you probably have a guess what I think is the answer.  But I’m open to other suggestions.

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