According to research conducted by Missouri University of Science and Technology, it takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form an opinion about your brand. This means that your website design can either ensure a consumer buys your product or make them search for alternatives. When your website design has less than a second to create an impression, you need to know exactly which things need to be top-priority.
Here's how these design elements affect your online business and how you can optimise each feature to leave a lasting impression:
1 - Navigation:
Easy and quick navigation on your website will build trust in the customer's mind. When a website opens itself up to be explored, it exposes itself to the customer which leads the customer to believe that the website has nothing to hide. There should be proper breadcrumbs on each web page that help the customer keep track of where he is within the website.
Apart from being swift, the navigation should be aesthetically creative as well. Even without experimenting too much with animated buttons, you can play around with basic lines and shapes to give your website a fresh look among the thousands of websites that your customers peruse everyday.
2 - Primary Image:
Visitors are attracted by visuals. Large visuals. If you're using a primary visual on your home page, you're making sure that the customer's eyes are directed towards a single point of focus. It can then become easier for you to guide their eyes to a call-to-action. The primary image should be crisp, should be colour-managed for the web and optimised for fast download.
Although, the only rule is that there are no rules. Even if you don't have a large visual, you can still guide the user's eyes with placement of other design elements on your webpage.
3 - Content:
Your website's content should be tailored for your customer. Instead of ranting on and on about how much your company has achieved over the years, your aim should be to tell clients and customers how you can help them achieve their goals. The tone and voice of your website should be personal and according to the age and persona of your customers. Focus on one reader instead of trying to reach out to millions.
Keep the content short and simple. Research has shown that people read 49% of web pages with 111 words or less as compared to reading only 28% of web pages with 593 words. This shows that if you're rambling more, you're losing precious opportunities of being taken seriously.
4 - Popular/ Recent Posts:
Popular posts are to website designs what Britney Spears is to Pepsi commercials. If you're running a blog, it is always good to show what other people are recommending. It works as an endorsement from real readers. If you have a post that has been recently added, let your visitor know so that he can read up on the latest that your website or blog has to offer.
A case study of Guitar Pro Tabs proves that just by adding popular posts and recent posts feature, they doubled their Google search appearances. Recent posts helped Google index the latest pages faster and added them to the stream of new content related to that topic.
5 - Share Buttons:
Adding sharing buttons for social media pages ensures that your visitors will be able to voice their opinions about your brand immediately. This gives them the power to share their thoughts with their friends on the spot. Meanwhile, it gives you the power to track what people are saying aloud about you. You can monitor the amount of incoming traffic coming from social media links, search engine queries or other forms of advertising.
A visitor expects to see share buttons on a website. So adding them doesn't give you bonus points. However, if you don't add share buttons, you'll have exasperated viewers searching for them and then leaving your page grumbling about an outdated website.
6 - Aesthetics:
Remember that the human brain is wired to notice the unusual. What we have covered in this list so far deals with the technical features of the website. Something that the developers' team needs to do. What we'll now talk about is something for your design department to look into. Aesthetic design is a subject in itself, but broadly, a website's design language should be consistent.
Remember that lines, shapes, colours and textures all create a mood and evoke a feeling. You need to synergise what your website evokes with the kind of perception you want to create in the customer's mind.
In the end, your website's aesthetics can only exercise a certain amount of control on the viewer's mind. If you want to create a better impression, you need to look beyond aesthetics and come to terms with practicalities in web design as well. Features such as recent posts can double your search engine presence while share buttons can increase the number of eyeballs coming to your website. Curate the content according to your target audience's personalities and give them an easy menu to navigate through your website.
Lastly, take a step back and analyse your website as a whole. Look at it as a person. Is it dressed well? Is it too formal, or too casual? Does it look over-burdened with text or is it begging for attention? Confront your website's weaknesses and ruthlessly axe down any unnecessary content. Each element on the web page should have a solid reason for being there, otherwise your viewers will come to your website, think "so what?" and leave without a second thought.