Is your face on your web site? Mine is. However, I’ve started to worry about that. The other day, somebody told me that they rated a web site on whether or not the faces that appeared on it were “smiley”. If the faces were serious looking business types, they didn’t really connect with the site. Then I heard about a company that replaced all its serious faces with smiley faces – and sales literally went up threefold overnight.

So this got me thinking – how much do faces on web sites have an effect. Lots – is the short answer. Indeed, new research shows us that faces have a far more powerful impact on business success than many people think.

Take a look at these three faces:

Male Face 1 Male Face 2 Male Face 3

Clearly, you notice differences – age, hair colour, skin colour, clothing, and so on. But how much profit do you think they will make for their companies? You think you can’t tell? Well, this new research from Tufts University in Massachusetts, published in Psychological Science, shows there is a statistically significant link between facial features and the profits of a business.

The researchers compared the facial features of the CEOs of the top 25 performing businesses in the Fortune 500 with the facial characteristics of the bottom 25 companies. What they found was that the profits of those companies were directly linked to how people perceived their faces. In other words the financial success of companies is directly linked to what people think of the people leading it.

It seems that we make instant, naive judgements of people based on their face. If we like their face, we like them and we react more positively, which clearly helps if they are the leader of a business. It may well be that choosing a leader for a company would best be done by getting people to rank their facial attractiveness, rather than looking at objective performance data.

This research also implies that if the faces shining out of your web site do not evoke that warm friendliness and charm, your online business could suffer. It may well be that the most successful online entrepreneurs are those whose faces are simply the ones that “fit”. It puts into perspective all that hard work on SEO, link strategies, pay per click campaigns and so on. They pale into insignificance compared with the faces on your web site. Time to get to the makeover studio I think….!

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