First Impressions

Essential Guide To Website First Impressions

The importance of a user’s first impression of your website is probably one of the most important factors on whether your website will be a success or a failure.

Extensive research has been carried out by universities around the world into all areas of this subject.

Studies have been carried out to determine how long the average user spends looking at various parts of the site.

You literally have seconds to make a good impression.

Where do I start with this subject? Well instead of listing the figures and indexing all of the information gathered, I’m going to keep it simple. By pointing out a few essential tips to bear in mind when deciding on a style and design of your new website.

If a user is searching for a service or product and click onto your page, you have to get this bit right. Otherwise they are gone. If they don’t like the look of the site or if there was a doubt that you provide the service they are after – BOOM – they are gone!

The 6 Essential Tips To Getting Your Website First Impression Right

1. Be Clear What You Do

Your Home Page must be visually appealing and be able to quickly show the user what you actually do. Within the first 3 seconds of a user landing on your site, it must be obvious what you actually do. Internet users coming in from a search engine will not scroll down your page and read the information to find out what you do. This has to be achieved in the first impression.

2. Look Modern

The website must look modern. Now I don’t mean futuristic. I use the term modern meaning the site must look like it wasn’t designed in 2001. There are websites for antique shops that use old classic fonts but with modern design techniques. A site that uses old fashioned design techniques looks neglected. It looks like the owner doesn’t care.

3. Pop-Ups On A Home Page Are A Definite No

Forget pop-ups. There are plenty of websites still using these intrusive pop-ups. It’s a turn-off. You will lose traffic. When is the last time you landed on a website for the first time, were met with a big pop-up asking you to signup to their newsletter. When is the last time that this happened to you? … and your first thought was “oh great, I’ve no idea what this site is about. But I’ll sign up for their newsletter now in case I can’t find the link later to give them my personal details”.

4. Minimise Complexity

Sites that are too complex, too busy and confusing will lose your visitors quickly. This come back to visually appealing aspects.

A visually appealing home page combines the use of the right colour scheme, font type and images to fit your brand.

These alone can quickly capture the attention of a visitor and encourage them to scroll down instead of exit.

5. Not Too Much Text

A common misconception is to load your home page up with as much text as possible, cleverly combining all of your keywords repeatedly into sentences.

  • For the search engine. Google is smarter than that.
  • For the user. Too much text is off-putting.

Digestible information in small chunks. Look for example at the BBC News home page. There is a lot of information that they have on there each day. But all broken down into visually appealing small blocks with clear headlines with an image.

6. Clear Navigation

The importance of navigation is huge. There are some unwritten rules, that if broken could frustrate users.

  • The logo goes at the top-left or top-centre.
  • When the logo is clicked or tapped, it returns you to the home page.
  • Navigation menu is clear and works well across all device types.
  • Account sign in or logout is top-right. (Same place for Checkout icon).
  • A Contact Us text link in the footer.

All pretty basic stuff. We look at sites like Amazon who get this absolutely right. Clear navigation allowing you to get to where you want generally within 1 click (or tap).

First Impressions Last

Achieving good first impressions is achievable by following these simple but golden rules.

If you get it wrong, it’s unlikely that your website will work for you.

Further Reference

For further reference on the subject of the importance of first impressions on websites, during my continuous research of this ever changing topic, I discovered an interesting paper written by Heejun KimDaniel R. Fesenmaier which covers “visual complexity (VC) and prototypicality (PT)” and the importance of first impressions on websites.

Let me quote a couple of lines from this paper which sums up this post and the importance of first impressions on websites:

“Studies indicate that when information searchers access a website, a rapid and almost unconscious but complex thought process is activated.

Such a reaction is instantaneous but rational whereby the brain instantly
tries to categorize and filter a website into a certain type”.

Link to case study paper.