Remember the time when you introduced yourself to your partner’s parents? Remember how carefully you selected your outfit, haircut and practiced your smile, voice, and handshake? That’s because you know how important it was to get your first impression right.
You have just one shot for that; a negative first impression takes a lot of EXTRA work to rectify if you even have the chance for that.
As humans, we are very good at rapidly scanning other people to create an instant judgment. Evolutionarily, it was a tool for survival so that we could spot threats or opportunities very quickly. Now in the digital era, we use this same mechanism to judge useful sites from time wasters.
So how much time does it take?
As far as judging people you have a couple of seconds, but according to a Google study, we form a website first impression in about 50 milliseconds. Yes, that’s 0.05 seconds, and sometimes it’s even faster.
So you need to have a well-crafted and well thought out web page to convey a right message in such a small time!
Emotion is key
Since we form a first impression in a split second, it means that we don’t make it out of logic and thinking, that would take more time and brain resources, it’s an emotional reaction, something that comes from our gut and can’t be explained at first.
So it’s not about how excellent your service or product is, and it’s not about the useful content you offer, this first impression is purely emotion driven and is mostly influenced by the page visuals and overall look and feel.
How to create an emotionally positive first impression
Puppies and cheesy stock photos of smiling people would be a good start.
Actually no, while there are no universal design rules, here are some guidelines that will help you compose a right page:
1 – Load time.
Of course, if the site takes more than one or two seconds to load you’re not setting the stage for a great first impression, and you are loosing about 30% of the impatient visitors.
2 – Limit your content.
Don’t try to say everything up top (I was gonna write “above the fold”, but then I threw up in my mouth a little, I hate that term). Trying to jam too much content right away will clutter the design and overwhelm users who have better websites to visit just a tab away.
3 – Find the essence.
Can you describe what you do and why we should care in a few simple words (like, in a way that your grandma would understand)? Craft your value proposition beautifully and display it with confidence, even with a video explanation – if that helps.
4 – Give Direction.
The navigation should be minimal, present the few links that matter. Make a path for the user, don’t make them think too hard. Just give them what they want, quickly. Getting to the essential items in your navigation comes from thoughtfully analyzing your site content and prioritizing what the most critical pieces of content are that you want to present.
5 – General color.
The color of your site will give the very first visual impression. Colors can have a massive impact on the overall attractiveness of the site and set the stage for the content that is about to be seen. Choose your colors thoughtfully keeping in mind the emotional response each color can have.
6 – Visual design.
Find some visuals that complement your value proposition beautifully or cleverly. The visual can be a good picture, an illustration or a video thumbnail. Pay attention to the composition, use of typography – font, size, layout – and all of the seemingly invisible details. This is your chance to shine and always keep in mind that beauty comes from simplicity, but simplicity takes a heck of a lot of work to get too.
7 – You are not trying to win an art contest
Even though I just talked just about visual design, colors, pictures and using little words… ultimately a site is meant to succeed at selling you, your products, collect emails, etc. you are not trying to win an art contest with a cool looking website.
Even though winning a design award would be great, keep in mind the goal you want to achieve with your site.
8 – Content & Design Synergy
After an excellent first impression, of course, the right content, copy, a good product and a functional funneling system is vital. All of these things are very important to the overall success of your site. But design is still the element that blends all these factors.
You need both design and content; they need to work together synergistically to give your site superpowers.
Design helps to “set the stage” for good content marketing. It builds the initial trust for a tremendous first impression.
Good design makes the visitors more inclined to “buy” your content. Keep it clean, simple and uncluttered. The value sum of the “design” + “content” will be higher than the two!