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While most of us wouldn’t hesitate to go on a first date with a pretty face, we probably wouldn’t go much further without a connection. How, exactly, do two parties connect? Usually, they feel a spark during an engaging conversation. The same applies to business relationships and the online industry in which we operate. These days, it seems everyone puts their emphasis on looking their best. Web copy tends to be an afterthought, meant to fit within a preconceived design rather than the other way around. Big images, lots of white space, and long, scrolling pages seem to be the rage (thank goodness Flash is now passé). But attracting someone’s attention and convincing her to take a desired action are two very different beasts.

I’ve lost count of how many split tests and side bets I’ve had with our design team. But I do know that the company and I are richer because of them. Less attractive pages with strong Web copy always outperform those with an emphasis on design. The same goes for emails — often, by a long shot. For us, design tends to follow copy, not the other way around. While most of us want to look our best, business isn’t a beauty contest. My advice: Take a look in the mirror. Are you both attractive and engaging?