It can take visitors less than one second to reach an initial impression of your website, and less than three seconds to decide whether to stay or move on, according to a study conducted by the Missouri University of Science and Technology. Unless you can keep visitors engaged once they are at your site, there is little chance that they will receive your message or make an online purchase. It is therefore of critical importance to make the best first impression possible.
The first thing a visitor to your website will notice is how efficiently your site loads. For years, the standard was a maximum of three seconds; beyond that, studies showed that visitors frequently expressed their impatience by moving on. More recent studies, however, indicate that the target has shrunk by almost a full second — despite average website sizes that have increased by over 30 percent during 2013 alone.
The typical website rendered on a desktop PC has as much as 61 percent of its page weight in images. Images have always been notoriously slow to load although new formats can slash image weight by as much as 50 percent while still maintaining quality. However, a traditional website loaded with images is simply too unwieldy for mobile devices, so mobilizing your site is critical to keeping visitors happy with your site’s performance.
Despite the drawbacks of images, a website without them has about as much personality as a petition to eliminate parking meters on downtown city streets. Visitors want to be shown — they do not want to have to wade through lengthy texts to find the information they want. People today are barraged with information, especially on the web, and there is so much clamoring for their attention that they have become very selective.
Images have always been a major part of marketing effectiveness. The key is to select images wisely and place them strategically. By doing so, you can use your website to enhance the personality of your company in the minds of your visitors.
Your company’s brand is communicated online through the answers to four primary questions: who, what, how and why.
- Who are you? Your website should provide visitors with this answer, whether you choose to have an “About Us” or “Our History” page or opt for a paragraph on your home page.
- What do you offer/promise? Within the first few seconds, visitors should have a clear idea of the products you make or sell, your guarantees and your ability to satisfy your customers’ needs.
- How do you handle your business? Perhaps you are devoted to producing environmentally friendly goods, offer same-day shipping, support local charities or recycle. Let your visitors in on key elements that they can associate with your brand.
- Why should visitors choose you? Summarize the reasons that your company or products are the best. Is it your extensive experience, your high level of expertise or your commitment to quality? One thing you probably do not need to highlight is your outstanding customer service — modern customers expect that, so few of them see it as unique or even interesting.
Major corporations know that the right combination of colors can enhance sales and profitability, which is why they spend millions researching consumer reactions to colors used in packaging — and on their websites. Different colors trigger different physical and psychological reactions in viewers, so you want to be sure that the colors you use on your website will impact viewers in the manner you desire.
- Cool Colors: These are calming and soothing, primarily greens, blues, purples, magenta, aquas, burgundies and pinks. They tend to create a relaxed feeling, so they can be applied liberally.
- Warm Colors: Most shades of orange, red, brown, yellow and chartreuse generate excitement or aggression. They have been shown to elevate the pulse rate in many people. On a website, these colors should be used sparingly.
- Neutral Colors: Neutral colors, which include shades of gray as well as black and white, have less impact on viewers than warm or cool, so they make excellent backgrounds. Some neutral colors can also enhance the impact of warm shades.
Regardless of whether you choose cool, warm or neutral color groups, you should keep your site harmonious. Mixing warm and cool colors in too high a percentage can make your site seem confusing, cluttered and chaotic. Choose one or two colors for the bulk of the page.
It is also important to keep in mind that the colors chosen for your text also need to be in harmony with the rest of the site. Pay special attention to the readability of the text against the background you have chosen. For example, a pale green text against a white background or gray text against a black background may be too difficult for viewers to see.
If your website does not instantly appeal to a viewer, you may not receive a return visit. At EX Squared, our team members have extensive experience creating and optimizing websites to make a great first impression on your visitors. Contact us to discover the many ways we can help.