Whether he coined it, Will Rodgers certainly popularized the phrase, “You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
First Impressions can leave you feeling on top of the world…or lower than pond scum. Yet, we cannot avoid them. An impression will be made whether we like it or not. So, when it comes to our websites, how can we nudge people toward that on-top-of-the-world impression?
No Gimmicks Necessary
In the workplace world, it can be considered helpful to present yourself as unique, to do something to make yourself stand out in the crowd. In the website world, the exact opposite is true. According to Google Research, high complexity equals low attraction, and unfamiliarity equals ugliness. “Users strongly prefer website designs that look both simple (low complexity) and familiar (high prototypicality).” For websites, it is the expected, not the unexpected, that helps make a good impression.
Back to the Basics
If statistics are correct, 75% of users admit they decide on a company’s credibility based solely on its website design. This must mean, then, that simply concentrating on the basics of website design is the most important factor in attracting users.
What are the basics? They are the simple visual elements: color, text, images, positioning, use of space, navigation, relevance. A study from the Missouri University of Science and Technology gives helpful findings and suggestions for each of these elements.
Other basics are the different common sections of a homepage: the logo, the main menu, the search bar, the main image, the main text, social networking links, the bottom of the page. The same study from Missouri S&T indicates that when it comes to forming impressions, users spend more time looking at the main menu than any other section of a page. It also gives a ranking of the importance of all these sections for user impressions.
As with so many things, attention to the fundamentals helps ensure success!