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First impressions count on the web

Published on March 1, 2006
Tags: Web Design London

"Unless the first impression is favourable, visitors will be out of your site before they even know that you might be offering more than your competitors"

Professor Gitte Lingaard
Carleton University, Ottawa
Source: Nature Journal

A study in January 2006 suggests that visitors to your web site will make up their minds about the quality of your company within a twentieth of a second - that's not a lot of time to make your first impression!

So, take a close look at your current web site. First, the design needs to be usable, and easy-to-navigate. Imagine that you know nothing about your organisation, and then take a look at your site with fresh eyes. Can you understand how to get to the site information immediately upon arrival? Can you understand from the site text what it is you do? Did you have to wait for ages for the site to load because your site is running on slow servers, or because your site is graphics-heavy? All of these things need careful consideration, and as a starting checklist we recommend:

  • If you're not comfortable writing the text for your site, employ a copywriter. You only get one fleeting chance to impress a site visitor and the first couple of paragraphs they read will be the most crucial.

  • Are your web servers fast and reliable? If ýour site doesn't start to load within 1-2 seconds from the moment you enter your web page address until the moment the site text or images first become visible in your web browser, consider moving to a new hosting company.

  • Does your site load quickly or are there lots of images or animated Flash files to download? If your site loads slowly because it is image-heavy, consider optimising your images (making the file sizes smaller without compromising quality), removing some unnecessary images, or having the server cache the images. Be critical - images should serve a purpose; if the images aren't necessary to support the page, then you probably don't need them.

  • Does the design look professional and better than your competitors? With the global nature of the Internet you need to stand out - your potential site visitors will judge you by the quality of your site. Does your site look professional? Is it better than those of your nearest competitors (the sites that rank closest to you on the search engines)? If the answer is no, consider having your site redesigned - image is everything. You don't necessarily have to have the flashiest, most animated site - but you do need to have a site that will appeal to the visitors you want to attract.

If all of this goes over your head, or you just don't have the time to dedicate to looking at your site this closely, no problem. We're here to help and can give you a clear assessment on the current state of your site, and what would benefit from improvement. We've undertaken hundreds of projects to upgrade sites, probably just like yours, so contact us today for a free no-obligation discussion.

By Chelsey Evans

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