webdesign articles

Love at First Site: Giving Your Website Visitors the right Impression

Think of the people who visit your site as blind dates. When youopen the door, your blind date usually knows whether they areattracted to you within the first minute. How do they know? Easy.By how you look, what you say, and how you treat them. If youopen the door wearing the same clothes you wore in 1987, say,"Wow, from my friend's description, I thought you would be a lotbetter looking," and sneeze in your dates face, not only will younever get a second date, your date will run for his/her life.

The same rules apply to your website. When people do a search forsomething they want to buy, they usually have many sites tochoose from. If yours does not impress them right off the bat, ittakes about five seconds for them to find another that does showthem what they want to see. There are plenty of other fish in thesea. You are just one among many.

So what do people want to see, you ask? There are 3 standardsof website excellence, and they are the same standards you woulduse to judge your blind date:

1. How it looks: If I visit two different websites with thepurpose of buying something, and those two websites sold theexact same product at the exact same price, I would buy from thesite that looked better--the one whose design made me think,"Wow, these guys must be making good money if they can afford tohire a good graphic designer." The more money I think thebusiness makes, the more I will identify them with value andprofessionalism.

The bottom line is, you need to make web design a priority. Thereare plenty of people out there who have graphic designer friendswilling to design their website for next to nothing. Those peoplehave the advantage because, even if they aren't the superiorbusiness, visitors will perceive them to be superior.

If you don't have any connections with graphic designers willingto do you a favor, see if you can find a starving artist willingto design the layout of your site. If anyone has an eye foraesthetics and is willing to work cheap, it's a starving artist.Once you know what your site should look like, either you or aweb designer can bring the artist's vision to life.

Take the time to design something that represents your businessor product well. Don't just throw up a website with gaudywallpaper, out of focus pictures and graphics placed at random.Remember that first moment when you open the door to a blinddate. Remember how much appearances count for in this world.

2. What you say: You want the person who visits your site to knowinstantly what you're selling and why they should buy from you.Visual representation has a lot to do with this, but you need towatch what you say as well. You must be clear, concise andfocused. Don't make the visitor decipher a cryptic headline fullof spelling and grammar errors. Include headlines that shout tothe reader exactly what you want them to hear.

Go over your copy a hundred times if you must, or have aproofreader edit your copy. You must be sure that a potentialcustomer won't get lost in a stream of consciousness narrativeabout your product or company, and come out saying, "What wasthat all about?"

Above all, think carefully about the colors you use for yourfont. Make sure there is plenty of contrast between thebackground and the font color. Never put a yellow font on anorange background. Also, be careful with white fonts on blackbackgrounds. If the letters are large, they will be easy enoughto read, but if they are 14 point or smaller, your visitor won'teven bother with the copy. No matter what colors you use, alwaysmake your font large enough. If people have to squint to readyour copy, it is too small.

3. How you treat them--It is socially acceptable for a woman tokeep her date waiting, letting him know that she doesn't considerhim a priority. However, it is not acceptable for your site tokeep a visitor waiting. If your site takes too long to load, thevisitor will simply find another site.

Do what you can to ensure that your site will download quickly.One easy thing to remember is that, if you have too much contenton a page, it's going to take a long time to load. Also, if youare on a free server, and you are sharing a port with others,your loading time will be lengthy. More specifically, if you haveimages that are uncompressed, they could be at 70k or 80k, asopposed to compressed images that look almost identical and loadat a preferable rate of 5k or 10k.

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