Consumers have never had more choice than we do right now. It’s a very crowded online marketplace out there, and we’re used to getting what we want instantly. From streaming services to Amazon deliveries to instant communications, our culture is one of immediate satisfaction.
As a business owner, that’s the reality you’re facing as you develop products, services, and your online presence. Your website needs to provoke curiosity, create an emotional response, and build trust in under a second. In a world of personalized search and a dozen browser tabs open, how do you stand out from your competitors?
When we meet someone face to face, we form some immediate opinions - Their body language, how they dress, posture, facial expression, voice, and more all feed our perceptions. It’s the same with a website - It needs to be truly special. The design, look, feel, layout, content, and design elements are the difference between closing the tab, or digging in deeper.
Why you need to make the right first impression
Getting eyeballs to your website takes lots of resources, effort, and money. When you’ve invested so much in attracting attention, you need to keep that attention and build it into a relationship.
It takes about 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not, whether they’ll stay or leave. Google Study
Those first few milliseconds are vital. That’s too short a time for someone to make a rational decision about your website - Instead, it’s led by subconscious instinct, and it’s an immediate reaction to what we like or dislike. Converting your visitors into your customers takes time, but it’s those first moments that are the most important.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
It all comes down to the design
Because a reader’s reaction is such a quick subconscious decision, you need to make sure you’re influencing that instant reaction in the right way. The best way to achieve this is through creating a refined, polished, and beautiful website that truly reflects your brand and business values. This helps to resonate with your audience, and will encourage them to dig deeper into your website.
Effective design is:
Subtle - The small touches are often what make a design communicate in a unique way. Design should subtly influence everything about the look, feel, and approach of your website.
Thorough - Attention to detail is essential, and it should flow through everything, from your logo to your color palette, font choice, visual elements, and imagery.
Cohesive - Design may have several variations on its theme, but they are all complementary and support your overall message.
Subtlety, attention to detail, and cohesiveness influence and strengthen everything about your website and your business. They help to support your brand, positioning, and marketing, and ultimately let you build trust with your customers.
First impressions are 94% design related. ConversionXL
Integrating design and the technology of your site
How do you build great design into every aspect of your website? It starts by understanding the values, principles, benefits, and approach behind your business. Design is about much more than just “pixel perfect placement” - It needs to be led by the things you care about, and communicated in a way that will have an immediate and profound impact on your website visitors.
That instant reaction is driven by design more than anything else. The following areas all play into these first impressions:
Design that’s clean:
An uncluttered look that uses whitespace to balance every element of the page.
Intuitive menus and navigation, so users don’t have to think.
A reputable, carefully selected font.
Elements that grab (and keep) attention:
Appropriate use of interactive elements like animation and parallax scrolling that add to the experience of a website.
Powerful, unique images - Get the best photography you can afford.
Innovative visual design that readers might not have seen elsewhere.
Clearly letting users know what they need to do next:
Focus users on the most important aspects of a page - have the right balance of text and visuals.
Clear “Calls to Action” that guide visitors.
So, where do you start? Here are three key things you can do to create a website that really matters and gets you the results you want:
Getting another perspective
It’s easy to get too close to your own work and business to have an objective opinion. What you need is another set of eyes, with the experience and expertise to help you identify what will work on your website, and what won’t. A website design and development agency can help you by:
Providing an independent, objective overview.
Collaborating with you to understand your vision, values, brand, approach, and unique selling points.
Completing a thorough analysis of your website to identify what needs changing.
Giving you options and a plan for website design and development work.
Understanding the difference between free, average and extraordinary design
Anyone can use a website builder, buy a template for WordPress, or hire a cheap or inexperienced website developer. And because anyone can do it, everyone has done it. This means many websites look very generic - And if something looks generic, it’s not going to stand out, and potential visitors close the tab.
Instead, you’ll want to invest a little more to create beautiful, bespoke design and content that truly supports what your business is all about. The main differences between average and extraordinary design are:
A standard approach that uses meaningless stock images, regurgitated text, complicated navigation and layout vs. a refined approach that creates a unique, user-focused design that delights your readers and drives specific actions and results.
A standard approach that treats all your website visitors are the same vs. a professional design that creates a unique and powerful user experience for each audience.
A standard approach that uses built-in elements, standard pages and generic design vs. a considered approach that hand-crafts every aspect of your website so it does exactly what you need.
Finding a partner to transform your ideas and vision
Great design is about much more than cost. It’s about creating value. That means a strong focus on quality, getting noticed, and building something truly special. The best website design agencies don’t just focus on the site itself. Instead, they will position your business to succeed.
The right approach is a holistic one that encompasses your business, brand, values, and offerings - It starts by understanding you and your business, expands on your vision, uses the right technologies to execute your strategy, and helps you make the perfect first impression.
Great design positions your business and brand as an expert, and commands respect and trust.
"[Users] said they were more likely to believe Web sites that looked professionally designed." Stanford Web Credibility Study
Ultimately, transforming these ideas into the perfect website involves many factors:
Balance - Harmoniously combining design, functionality, aesthetics, and effectiveness.
Innovation - Cutting edge and unique, but timeless.
Delight - Great photography, copy, animation, and typography to make your website a satisfying customer experience
Design matters. In fact, it could matter more than anything else on your website. If you can pierce through today’s attitude of instant gratification, and grab someone’s attention by making a positive impression, you’re already on the way to converting them into a customer. A great digital design agency can create a powerful brand and an amazing design, expand on your vision, and build everything into a strategy and structure that just works.
This will increase trust and engagement, naturally drive more sales your way, and help your business to thrive.
Need help improving the first impression of your website? Contact us to get started.