According to research, it takes less than seven seconds for people to form a first impression. What’s more, it can take less than one-tenth of a second for people to start judging and determining critically influential traits like trustworthiness. To put this in perspective, it’s taking you more than one-tenth of a second to read this word (and this one…and this one!).
However, despite the fact that most businesses know — for better or for worse — that first impressions are formed rapidly and have a lasting impact, this awareness doesn’t necessarily translate into the online world. That is, while most businesses pay careful attention to the first impression they make when engaging customers in-person or on the phone, they don’t realize that their website might be sending a different message that goes: “sorry, but we’re not the right choice for you — thanks for stopping by, and please head to our competitors.”
Key Areas to Analyze
In light of the above, one of the most important — and indeed, profitable — things that every business should do (including yours!) is take a step back, and objectively ask the question: “is our website making a great first — and lasting — impression on our visitors?” To help you answer this extremely important question, here are four areas to analyze:
According to research by Kissmetrics.com, 47% of visitors expect all pages to load in two seconds or less, and 40% of visitors will abandon a website if any page takes more than three seconds to load.
It’s worth highlighting the qualifiers “all” and “any” in the paragraph above, because it’s not enough if your home page loads quickly, but any of your secondary pages (e.g. a “Frequently Asked Questions” page) load slowly. All pages must load quickly, without exception.
It’s also pivotal for all design elements — such as colors, fonts, text size, navigation menus, and so on — to be consistent across the entire website. Otherwise, the experience for visitors is disorienting instead of uplifting.
With this in mind, don’t feel that you need to have every page look exactly the same. Consistency doesn’t mean cookie cutter. It simply means that the website should be strong internal integrity. It should “hold together” at all times, and visitors should never feel that they’ve somehow left your territory and wandered somewhere else.
There was a time — and we’re talking about 20 years ago — when it was acceptable (or at least, it wasn’t harmful) for businesses to have a generic, out-of-the-box website that looked like it was created in about an hour; and perhaps by a talented high schools student. However, those days are long gone!
Today, visitors demand and expect professional, thoughtful website design that aligns with a business’s brand and core value propositions. This means elements like white space, layout, graphics and photos must all be strategically selected and properly implemented. Any weaknesses will damage rather than enhance brand and reputation. Indeed, research reveals that a whopping 75% of customers make judgements on a business’s credibility based solely on its web design.
While factors such as speed, consistency and design play a crucial role in this equation, what happens once the framework is set? That’s where content takes over and either ushers visitors forward on the buyer’s journey or sends them racing for the exits.
As such, the content on your website must be exceptional, starting — but definitely not ending — with your home page. The words you convey — either through text, video, audio or all of the above — must share your core messages, and drive engagement. This is frankly much more difficult to do than most businesses realize, because unlike an in-person or phone conversation, it is (for now) a one-way monologue instead of a two-way conversation. However, professionally created content does not feel like getting a lecture from a stranger. Rather, it feels like a conversation with a trusted friend who has your best interests in mind.
At Noble Webworks, we can analyze your website and determine if it is firing on all cylinders: speed, consistency, design and content. If so, then you can rest easy knowing that your website is working for your business 24/7/365. If not, then we will provide you with targeted recommendations to close any gaps, so that your website will make a great first — and lasting — impression. Your consultation with us is free.