Since 70-80% of consumers research a company online before visiting their business or making a purchase with them, it behooves every business to make that first impression count. Whether they’re looking to buy what you offer or are applying to work with you, they’ll be spending some time on your website to learn about your products, history, mission, goals, press, and updates.
However, that’s not all they’re learning about. Your website’s overall user experience and visual design will non-verbally communicate who you are. Potential customers will see your website’s looks before they read your bio about how amazing you are and all the awards you’ve won. Think of it like how we like to dress well to make a good first impression even if we’ve already got a fantastic personality. It’s no surprise that 46% of consumers judge a company’s credibility by their site’s aesthetics.
An attractive, easy-to-use website shows that you care about your digital presence. It shows you care about making a good first impression and are keeping up with the times. It’s a signal that you’re successful enough to afford quality design, even if you did it yourself after watching a few YouTube videos. Most importantly, it shows effort, commitment, and enthusiasm.
Beyond just looking great, your website is actually a reflection of your brand. Or should be, at least. Looks and user experience speak much louder than words, and even more so subliminally. This is where design becomes paramount to influencing the perception customers have of your company.
For example, if you're a fashion line flaunting classic, romantic, and professional looks, your color scheme, fonts, and layout should furnish a classic, romantic, and professional ambiance that accurately represents your brand. As the artistic style and designs that accentuate a fashion brand's uniqueness, so should its Web design. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make the first one count.
Here are some of our website design tips to keep in mind when designing your company’s website:
Users spend about 6 seconds looking at the large main image, also known as a hero image, on company homepages. That’s pretty long to look at something visual, so choose your image wisely. It’s usually the first place where their eyes land when your landing page first loads.
Don’t just post ocean sunset stock photos with no context just because you think they look nice. Your image shouldn’t just look nice, it should make a statement about your brand. The main image often refers to new releases, so if you’re going to post about one, make sure the photo (or collection of photos) represents the rest of the brand well.
This may sound like common sense, but by “really readable”, we mean, go beyond using legible fonts and simple vocabulary.
In regards to SEO, high-ranking websites and blogs aren’t just well-written in simple ways but are also formatted to be even easier to read. Their sentences are short and so are their paragraphs. Their fonts are usually dark and rounded. There are multiple headers throughout the page to organize the content.
Don’t use too many flowery words in order to look prestigious and sophisticated. A clean, modern design with clear, concise copywriting will do that for you.
More than half of all search engine queries are made on the phone. It makes sense -- sometimes we don’t remember that we need to buy some new athleisure until we’re out at the park and pass by a stylishly-dressed group doing yoga.
Your website should be mobile-optimized so someone looking at it on their phone can easily navigate around. A poor mobile UX can easily turn them off and send them over to a competitor instead.
Here’s a great example of a clean, easy-to-use mobile version of the site pictured above. See how it’s not just a zoomed out version of the webpage and all the important details are clearly visible?
A critical part of your website being user-friendly on both web and mobile is how easy it is to navigate. This means making sure all your important pages are easy to find. Any links to your e-commerce and bio should be featured on the homepage near the top. Try not to split your contents into too many subcategories nested within each other -- this can make your content frustrating to find.
Think about what content you want new and recurring customers to access most and make sure no one has to do too much work to search for it. If you’re getting emails asking you “how to check out”, you have some UX work to do.
Think of the “three-click rule.” It suggests that if a user can’t find what they’re looking for within three clicks, they will more than often leave. Also, in a 2015 article in TIME, Microsoft researchers found that the average user has an attention span less than that of a goldfish--9 seconds, and declining.
So, unless your content is so good that it makes your visitors forget what they were initially looking for, it’s safe to assume that they will bounce in 3-clicks or 9-seconds, whichever comes first.
Have you added new features, products, or services since last updating your FAQ? Have you been getting any questions on them? You probably have. Look through your social media and email to see what customers are asking and make sure they’re answered in your FAQ, product descriptions, or anywhere else on your site you see fit.
Data shows that 39% of people won’t stick around your website if it takes too long to load. Most modern websites nowadays load so quickly, it’s hard to have patience for one that doesn’t. Even if someone might be okay with waiting, they might switch tabs and forget about you.
Is your website too slow? It might be because of high-res images or any other large files that would take a while to attach in an email. See if you can use smaller files without compromising too much quality.
A slow website can subtly make you look more outdated and take your customers back to the dial-up days of AOL free trial CDs. It can negatively affect SEO as well.
Following our above tips will seriously help your website out, but they mostly pertain to the activity that happens a few seconds after the user lands on your page. You need to make a great impression as soon as the page loads, before the user clicks on anything at all. 94% of what goes into first impressions is the website’s visual design.
Take a look at the websites of well-known brands in your industry and see how you compare to theirs. What do you think of in the first two seconds once their homepages load? Which websites immediately make you think “wow, nice” or even better, “this brand looks cool”? Draw inspiration from them without sacrificing your brand’s unique image.
When you visit a new website, your first impression is most likely going to be a wrap of its logo, the fonts used, copywriting, and graphic design. The better of an impression your site makes, the more professional and trustworthy your brand looks. For many reasons we’ll touch on in another post, a quality site is key to ranking high in the search engines.
It’s a lot to talk about, so stay tuned for our future blog posts about how to make a brilliant website that truly represents the essence of your business. It’s not something most can do overnight, so feel free to contact us if you need any help from expert software developers and designers to build you the website you and your customers will love!