Website First Impressions

First impressions count

What impression do you give people when they meet you for the very first time? What impression does your website give? They say that 70% of communication is non-verbal, and although I wouldn’t know an exact percentage for visual communication from your website, we experience a similar feeling when we land on a new website. We either feel hopeful about finding the information we’re looking for, or we have a suspicion that it will be a waste of our time.

The first thing we notice is the colour and the layout, the overall feeling of the site. The design. We immediately feel comfortable or uncomfortable. It’s a split-second, intuitive thing, and it already sets the tone for the rest of our visit on that site.

Going on a date

Your homepage is a bit like going on a date. You want your date to get the best impression of you. You want them to think about how they would like to stay around for a while and get to know you better. So how does your homepage do on its first date? Is it attractive and easy to get on with?

Inviting people to your home

But your website isn’t just for welcoming new visitors though. What about your returning guests? Imagine it more like inviting friends around to your home for coffee. What impression does your entrance give? Is it tidy and welcoming or cluttered and messy?

The design

Within a split-second a user has an impression of your site from:

The colour scheme – depending on the type of audience you wish to encourage to stay on your site, you can choose colour schemes which are calming, vibrant, or even jarring, but be very clear about the effect the colours have.

The layout of the page – some sites love to focus their visitors on just one item in order to encourage them to be interested in that one topic. Others feel they want to offer more information as an introduction, but beware confusing or overwhelming your visitors with a cluttered layout. Think about the “google” page as a strong advocate for simplicity.

The fonts you use – the initial impression of the font you use can give your website the feeling of having authority, or being edgy or in the worst cases it can even repel people. Yes – even the humble font can wield that much power!

The main image(s) – Say it with pictures! What is it you want people to know about your site straight away. Does your main image say just that?

You can elicit an immediate, pleasurable “ah!” or a nervous “oh-oh” from your visitors, just from the design, before they have read a single word you have to say. Does this seem far-fetched? Have a look at the time many visitors stay on your site – 2 seconds? 3 seconds? How can they judge that they don’t like what you’re saying in that time? Well, because they aren’t even getting as far as your fantastic text!

Welcome your guests

First impressions count! Why not see what first impressions your website gives – ask a friend to look at it and give you honest feedback, or do an online survey, or see if you can look at it with “new eyes”. We get so used to the familiar things around us that we rarely see them as others do. It might be time to ask a designer to take a look at your site, someone who is trained in the use of visual communication.

What you say on your site is definitely important, but if your visitors don’t even get as far as reading it, your words are in vain.

What are you going to tweak on your homepage today?

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