Fifth in a Series

OK, let’s admit it. Looks matter. It’s just the way it is. People are more willing to check out your website and are more likely to find it credible if looks like some thought went into how it looks. We know, we know – a couple of weeks ago we were all preachy about content. Well, truth is, you gotta have both.

So if you’re not taking care with your visual presentation, you might as well be sending that great content  out into the world with brown pants and black shoes. And just see where that gets you.

Visualize Your Site

How are you doing, visually? Are you fetching in your Sunday finest, or more brown on black?

• Your online brand reinforces and aligns with your offline brand and collateral.

• Your logo is placed where visitors expect it and can see it (usually upper left).

• You don’t use the same stock photography and in the same way as other websites.

• Your web design breaks up sections logically and identifies where you are at all times.

• Web-appropriate typography (fonts) ensures that your pages look good on multiple browsers.

On the Web, It’s Love at First Instant

Most web users form first impressions of a web page in the first few seconds. In the blink of an eye, surfers make nearly instantaneous judgments about a website’s visual appeal. First impressions can color judgments about perceived credibility (content), ease of navigation (usability) and ultimately influence our purchasing decisions. Creating a fast-loading, visually appealing site can help websites succeed (functionality).

Here are a few more keys to ensure that you draw people in, rather than sending them off looking for the fashion police.

• Optimize graphics so they don’t significantly slow download speed.

• Make certain that each graphic serves a clear purpose.

• Ensure that all audio/video/Flash files serve a clear purpose.

• Configure alternate text to display on browsers that don’t support images.

• Label download times for audio/video files. It’s a cue that something will happen.

• Provide links to downloads for any media plug-ins you’re using on-site.

The Complete Package

There might have been a time when you could throw a few things on an indifferent website and call it good for five years while you did your important real business. Well, come to think of it, there really never was such a time. But if there was, it’s long, long gone. Today people expect to see a sharp, professional site that reflects well on you and your business – and gives them confidence that you can be entrusted to provide value for their money. If not – there’s a more savvy competitor, or 20, just a click away.

Take our website scorecard test and see how your site stacks up. 

Next week: Analytics.