As much as one may hate to admit it, first impressions really do matter. So when it comes to your digital presence, it’s not just a good idea to have an attractive, functioning website — it’s essential.

Twenty years ago, first impressions in business were determined by the look of a company’s storefront. But as the internet developed into the sprawling network it is today, a business’s digital presence didn’t just become an important feature of its brand — it became the key to nearly all of its first impressions. Websites now serve as the first look most clients have of any business, so perfecting its look and functionality is of the utmost importance if you seek to not only succeed, but stay competitive in the marketplace.

It’s important to note that the importance of first impressions isn’t based on some hokey pseudoscience, though. In fact, there are important psychological functions at work that give first impressions their extreme importance. The science behind it stems from a psychological concept called the “halo effect,” describing the idea that a positive first encounter with something will influence future encounters, resulting in a more positive impression overall. This process plays a role in almost every first impression, whether it be a blind date or an applicant’s interview with a big, corporate firm. Psychology and digital marketing go hand in hand, more so than many may realize.

A website’s first impression is dependent on two factors: its look and its functionality. Perfecting one of those factors is easy, but mastering both in unison can be extremely difficult. This gives proof to the importance of full-service digital marketing agencies that offer website construction with consideration of a company’s brand. It isn’t enough to just have a good-looking website that works — it needs to reflect the values and environment of the company it’s representing.

The first step to ensuring a positive first impression online is by acknowledging the importance of a good-looking, functioning website that represents your business in every way possible. From there, you can decide what steps you need to take to maximize your website’s potential. Remember, digital marketing isn’t just about advertising your company online — it’s about creating a brand people want to love.