There’s one on every street. A neighbor who waits weeks, or even months after a holiday is over to take down their decorations. Heck, there’s a house on my street that has Christmas lights still on in March. EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. Did they not notice that its beginning to get warm again, flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping? Don’t get me wrong, I love when houses are decorated. Whether its for Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, the decorations always help get me in the spirit of the holiday. But, most people have gotten the memo to take down the decorations soon after the holiday is over, I think even two weeks after is a little much.
First impressions are everything. If you’re meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time, or having new colleagues over, and they see you still have your Christmas lights up and its February, they will probably think you’re a tad lazy. The outside of your house is the first thing they will see, of course you want it to represent you and who are you. Just like a house, a website’s first impression is extremely important. Your website represents who you are, and what you offer. When people see your site for the first time they’re thinking:
- Is this site credible?
- Is it trustworthy?
- Is this a professional company?
- Is the company stable?
- Does this site make me feel welcome?
- Am I in the right place?
You need to ask yourself all of these questions when looking at your own website. Now, design and layout may not be the most important factor in a website overall and often times people put too much emphasis on how a site looks instead of how it works, but it does play a very important role in making a great first impression. If your site looks like its out of the 90s (and you know if yours does) its time to get a facelift.
Here are some tips to take into consideration when you begin the process of redesigning your website:
- Proper use of colors: Use the right colors for your audience and to draw attention to certain elements. Don’t try to make every single thing jump out. If you do, the result will be just the opposite – nothing will stand out. Avoid a chaotic mix of colors on your website and instead pick three or four colors for your template and corresponding marketing materials.
- Animations, gadgets and media: Avoid anything unnecessary. Using Flash animations because they look pretty cool is the wrong way to go about things. In most cases it’s best not to use animated background or background music. Only use music and animations to help support certain content and information.
- Layout: Create a clear navigation structure and organize page elements in a grid fashion, as opposed to randomly scattered throughout the page. Also, don’t be afraid of white space, and avoid clutter at all costs! White space will help draw attention to certain areas of your site, which is great!
- Typography: Make sure your website is easy to read. Use fonts, font sizes and font colors that are legible. For easier page scanning, use bullet lists, section headers, and short paragraphs. Think about how you read things, and how its easiest for you.
While design is important, don’t forget that offering great content is what your visitors are really after. A well-designed website might convince visitors to take a closer look, but they wont look twice if the content isn’t useful and well organized. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
It’s also very important to maintain consistency throughout your website. It’s best to keep elements such as colors and sizes of images and fonts fairly consistent from page-to-page. This will help your site have a good flow from page to page. Keep the colors primarily the same as well as fonts and layout structure. Also make sure to keep your navigation tools in the same location on each page, this will help your visitors get around faster, and find what they’re looking for more easily.
Make sure that anyone visiting your website can view it no matter what browser or application they’re using. With the rapid growth of mobile phones and tablet devices, such as the iPad, people are surfing the internet more than ever before, and if they try to get on to your website and find it incompatible, they will quickly leave and find a site that is compatible with their device.
Design is only the beginning of having a great website, but its a very important part of it. Just like you want the outside of your home to have a great first impression on visitors, you also want the homepage of your site to do the same. If people dont like what they see in the first 5 seconds, they will leave and find something better! So make sure you grab people’s attention right away, and then proceed to provide them with great information as well.