The adage that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression was coined long before the Internet, but when it comes to your website, it is especially true. A recent study from the Missouri University of Science and Technology revealed that visitors form their first impression of your website in under 0.2 seconds. Within the next 2.6 seconds, the visitor will have focused his eyes in a manner that strengthens his first impression.
Website Sections Garnering the Most Attention
The study divided websites into sections to determine which areas received the most attention. Experienced web designers were not surprised that visitors spent more time (an average of 5.94 seconds) focusing on the primary graphic or photo than on the written content (5.59 seconds). However, they also averaged 5.95 seconds focusing on the links to social media sites. This statistic alone means that you need to make sure that your site properly incorporates social media. Other elements receiving the most attention included:
- Logo — 6.48 seconds
- Navigation menu — 6.44 seconds
- Search box — approximately 6 seconds
- Bottom of page — 5.25 seconds
Other Important Style Elements
Participants in the Missouri S & T project reported that certain style elements were also of importance in establishing a favorable first impression. Appropriate images were critical in generating a favorable response, but inappropriate images frequently had the opposite effect. The color scheme was also important; visitors preferred pleasant colors and contrasting text colors that were both attractive and easy to read.
Website Functionality and Usability
The value of your website to your business requires it to be both functional and easy to use. Therefore, your site must create a favorable first impression regardless of how the visitor accesses it. Not all visitors are willing to take the time to search out a navigation menu or contact link. Your website design needs to make it easy for visitors to find what they want, whether it is a search of your catalog or your company blog.
Furthermore, businesses need to understand the importance of having a responsive website. The widespread increase in the use of mobile devices to access the Internet has already impacted how web developers must approach site design. The use of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices for web access will only continue to increase.
Each mobile device has the potential to display your website differently. They all have one thing in common, however — the viewing screens are smaller than a desktop monitor. Simply shrinking a website to fit is not the answer. The layout, navigation methods and sometimes even the colors may need to be adjusted to optimize mobility.
If a first-time visitor has difficulty displaying your website, navigating between screens or reading your text, he may never return. You cannot assume that he will simply go home and use his desktop to try again.
Summing it Up
If a visitor forms a negative first impression of your website, you will be hard-pressed to entice him to make a return visit. It is therefore important to pay critical attention to the following areas.
- Style — Are the colors attractive and visually pleasing? Are the sections that visitors spend the most time viewing displayed prominently? Is the text of sufficient size and contrast to facilitate reading?
- Usability — Does the site display properly on desktops, tablets and smartphones? Is the navigation proper for each type of display? Can visitors quickly find what they need?
Summary: Visitors to your website can form a first impression in less than one-fifth of a second. It is essential that you ensure that their impression is favorable.
About EX Squared
EX Squared began as an Austin web design firm more than a decade ago. Our talented team of professionals offers a full range of business solutions using the latest technology. If you need web design in Austin, TX — or any other IT solution — feel free to contact us today.