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Websites: How To Nail A Positive First Impression
These days, nearly everything is discovered online. We oftentimes get our first impression of a brand through its website, and we form opinions in a matter of 0.05 seconds (about the time it takes to blink.) Yet the importance of these impressions is generally underrated. Research shows that subsequent impressions, no matter how contradictory, do little to compensate for opinions made during the first impression - bringing a literal meaning to the saying...
While visitors' website evaluation takes several factors into account (content, usability), it is the site’s visual appearance — its design — that determines first impressions. You're competing with billions of other websites to grab visitors’ attention and make them form favorable opinions, so you really can't afford to miss the mark. Here are 15 web design stats to help ensure you put your best foot forward.
1) First impressions are 94 percent design related. (Source)
According to a Kinesis Inc study on user behavior, visual appeal and usability have the largest influence on people’s first impression of a brand. And these initial impressions can last for years. The good news is that positive first impressions lead to higher user satisfaction later on; but as you might expect, the inverse is also true.
first-impression
2) 75 percent of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on its web design. (Source)
In an age where trust is everything, credibility has become all the more important. This includes the credibility of your brand, its products and services, and everything else you do. How does one establish trust in an online world? Think of your website as an online handshake. The key things here are design, responsiveness, and quality content. A website lacking in these areas creates a perception that the company behind it can’t be trusted. I think we can both agree, not many people are going to hand over their hard-earned cash to a company they don’t find credible.
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4) People following directions with text and illustrations do 323 percent better than people following directions without illustrations. (Source)
This is especially crucial for securing and onboarding new customers. Using both text and illustrations helps brands increase conversions by:
  • Drawing the visitor’s eye to the desired action
  • Demonstrating how to proceed with the desired action
5) 65 percent of senior marketing executives believe visual assets are core to how their brand is communicated. (Source)
These visual assets include photos, videos, graphs, illustrations, infographics, emojis, and more. Check out the following examples from Tumblr and Land Rover. Take note of how they use color, font, and images to convey the brand.
Using visuals helps express the essence of the brand, illustrate key marketing messages, and convey company values and product features. Furthermore, content with images get 94 percent more views than content without, and researchers have found that visuals increase people's willingness to read a piece of content by 80 percent.
tumblr
6) Colors and visuals influence purchase decisions, emotions, and brand recognition. (Source)
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When designing your website, use images, text, arrows, lines, and whitespace to direct visitor attention to your calls to action. Implement whitespace in tandem with dark colors for optimal appeal. Be careful with color choice. The the colors employed on your site should accurately reflect the brand (like how red makes sense for Coca Cola and black makes sense for Playboy). Adherw to web design best practices to make visitors more inclined to stick around and make purchases.
7) Dark colors are better than light colors when it comes to traffic, pageviews, bounce rates, and average time on site. (Source)
Though the differences are small, dark colors are better than light colors at driving traffic, pageviews, bounce rate, and average time on site. Perhaps dark colors are more successful at grabbing visitors’ attention. Bounce rate and time spent are especially important because Google considers them when determining web page quality. Also, bounce rates tend to have an inverse relationship with conversion rates, meaning the lower your bounce rate, the higher your conversions.
8) Most users scan websites in an F-shape. (Source)
An eye-tracking study by Nielsen Norman Group shows that users scan websites similar to how we scan pages of a book. The pattern typically starts out horizontal across the top part of the content, continues down the page in a second horizontal movement covering a shorter area than the previous movement, and carries out on the content's left side in a vertical scanning movement. Brands should design and format content in a way that supports this behavior, placing important content in heavily trafficked areas and utilizing subheads and bullet point lists down below that users can easily scan.
9) Design principles such as visual hierarchy, font hierarchy, and page load speed have a direct influence on conversion. (Source)
Visual hierarchy is the arrangement or presentation of elements in a way that implies importance, while font hierarchy is a system for organizing type that allows the reader to easily find what they are looking for and navigate the content. Best practice is to put your most important content, such as navigation, calls to action, and signup forms, up top, and to utilize big headers to signify important information.
Ways to speed up page load times include:
  • Using a content delivery network
  • Using a fast hosting company
  • Compressing your images
  • Specifying image dimensions
  • Minifying your CSS and JS files
Test your current website speed here.
10) Nearly half of web users expect a site to load within 2 seconds or less, and tend to abandon a site that doesn’t load within 3 seconds. (Source)
We live in a fast-paced, technology-driven world. People expect speedy access to information! Don’t count on everyone to wait around for you, because half of them won't. Competition is high, and site performance matters. In fact, a one-second delay in page response can result in a 7 percent reduction in conversions. For an ecommerce site making $100,000 per day, that’s 2.5 million in lost sales every year!
11) 52 percent of online shoppers stated that quick page loading is important to their site loyalty. (Source)
Especially for high spenders. Additional findings show that 79 percent of online shoppers who experience a dissatisfying visit are less likely to buy from the same site again. Twenty-seven percent are less likely to buy from the same site’s physical store. This can have a huge impact on your customer retention and brand loyalty, which sucks considering the cost of keeping an existing customer is significantly less than the cost of acquiring a new customer.
page_load_time
12) 90 percent of people use multiple screens sequentially in the same day. (Source)
Research shows people start on smartphones, advance to PCs, and possibly finish on tablets. They watch TV and search what they’re seeing, go back to their smartphones, and the process continues.
Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to have a coordinated web presence across all devices. This includes site design, branding, and a overall user experience. Expect that every product and promotion will be touched by mobile. Here are 11 digital publishing solutions for cross-platform.
13) More consumers access websites on mobile devices than on desktop, but one in four sites has not been mobile optimized. (Source)
responsive-design.jpg-quote
Mobile optimization has to do with responsive design, a web design technique that responds to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform, and orientation. Seeing that 67 percent of users are more likely to make a mobile purchase on a responsive website than a site that's not optimized for mobile, it’s no longer a question of whether or not to adapt. Here's how to get started.
14) 48 percent of users say that if they arrive on a business site that isn't working well on mobile, they take it as an indication of the business simply not caring. (Source)
A poorly functioning mobile site can discredit your brand before a user even interacts with it! Credibility is everything - don't lose what you've worked so hard to build!
Conclusion
Web design is everything to first impressions. See that your site:
  • Is visually appealing and loaded with quality content
  • Features high quality and contextually relevant images
  • Uses text and illustrations in tandem
  • Is formatted to support user scanning behaviors
  • Employs visual and font hierarchy
  • Features smart color that accurately portrays the brand
  • Loads fast and provides a mobile-optimized experience
Image from Tumblr
land-rover
Image from LandRover.com
Users scan web pages in an f-shape
Image from NNGroup
Recommended Reading:
  • What Is The Best Font Size and Typeface For Web?
Data from Kissmetrics
a_LOW
Image from MarketingLand
15) 62 percent of companies with websites designed specifically for mobile had increased sales. (Source)
Websites designed for mobile devices give brands yet another platform to access and market to consumers. Other sources show that 70 percent of mobile searches lead to action on mobile-friendly websites within one hour. If the site is not optimized for mobile, 40 percent of users will choose another result.
3) Having a positive expectation of a product increases the likelihood of having a positive and satisfied experience with it (Source)
The inverse is also true. For the cases where your website is the first impression of your brand, only two scenario can play out here:
  1. A visitor lands on your site, has great first impression, and therefore positive expectations of your product. This positive expectation increases the likelihood the visitor will have a satisfied experience with your products, making it likelier you'll retain this customer.
  2. A visitor lands on your site, has a bad first impression and therefore poor expectations about your products or services. Not only is the visitor less likely to have a satisfied experience, but this could be bad word of mouth for your brand.
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