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Ok...Pop Quiz: What is the correct time it takes the average Web site visitor to develop a first impression of a website?
A) 2 seconds B) 6 seconds C) 300 milliseconds
Well, according to a recent research study by the Missouri University School of Science and Technology, the answer is (drum roll)....
C: 300 milliseconds.
If your website’s functionality and design fall flat, a visitor will bounce FAST (which takes about 400 milliseconds, by the way ;-).
How can you ensure your company’s website passes the first impression test? What makes an effective website? Make sure it follows the five key components of effective development and design.
One: Develop it with users in mind
A user-friendly website will:
- use intuitive navigation structure with logically named pages (e.g., “Company Overview,” “Contact Us,” etc.)
- look and work the same in multiple Web browsers and on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones
- load smoothly and quickly
- use easy-to-understand language
- feature an appropriate amount of text — enough to communicate your main marketing messages without overwhelming visitors
Two: Make it memorable
Memorable Web sites include:
- a fresh, unique appearance that quickly communicates your unique value
- a strategic balance between white space, text and images
- compelling elements — sharp photos, a well-coordinated color palette and typography that sets the appropriate tone
Three: Set yourself apart from the competition
What do your competitors’ sites look like? What kind of functionality do they offer? What sort of content and imagery do they have? What can you do differently or better?
While the answers to those questions shouldn’t direct your site’s design and content, they are important to keep in mind. Your site should tell your company’s unique story: who you are, what you do, where you are located and all of the other elements that make up your unique brand. Balancing that against your competition will help you appropriately position your company.
Four: Make it visible
Ever drive by an amazing billboard while off-roading in the desert? No? There is a reason for that. Even the best-designed sites are worthless if they’re hidden in some deserted corner of the Web. Make sure your website is optimized so search engines — and prospective clients — can find it. But understand this: While search engine optimization (SEO) has tremendous upsides, it needs to be done correctly. Check out our SEO Best Practices page or our Blog article "Search Engine Tips to Increase Visibility for Your Sonoma County Business" for more information.
Five: Make it work for your unique goals
Form follows function when it comes to Web development and design.
Top producing websites:
- make it easy for visitors to contact you
- offer clear calls to action
- allow potential clients to get to know you through photos, videos, concise biographical information, social networking, blog posts, etc.
- integrate with your company’s identity and business goals
If you follow these five key components, you will be sure to make a powerful, lasting first impression — and dramatically boost your chances of converting visitors into customers and clients.
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