Have you ever walked into a shop and instantly thought “this isn’t what I was expecting, I don’t want anything here”. But we still feel the need to do a full circuit browse before we leave – we can’t just walk straight out again, that would look weird!
When it comes to online shopping there’s no such issue. If you log on and can’t see what you’re looking for, or think “this isn’t for me” – one click and you’re out and on to the next site – and no strange looks from our fellow shoppers!
We make instant snap judgements every day, many of which we’re unaware of. As consumers, we are bombarded with messaging and content competing for our attention. This means more information to filter through and less time to ponder a decision. That’s why first impressions are so important. It takes about 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about a website – now that’s fast! With decisions made that quickly, a web page that doesn’t look visually appealing is instantly at a disadvantage – you’ve fallen at the first hurdle. You could have amazing insightful content but if the user doesn’t get past the home page they’ll never see it.
Speed and choice are the key elements that you are competing with to keep a consumer engaged. Improvements in technology have had a positive impact on our lives but equally, they have made us more impatient. We don’t expect to have to wait for something to happen – if it’s not instant then we lose interest. Do you ever find yourself pressing the open door button on a lift multiple times? You know that it won’t magically make the lift arrive any faster but we’re now so used to something happening with just one click.
Research by Adobe showed that “Slow loading times for images cause 39% of users to stop engagement with a website”. Images and video are a great way to connect and engage, however, if they take too long to load they have the opposite effect. A lot of this can be counteracted by using lower-res images and smaller file sizes. Whilst it can be tempting to fill a site with lots of beautiful hi-res images, these will all impact on your website’s effectiveness.
And there’s so much choice. One query in a search engine will bring up multiple options that will potentially have what the user is looking for. With so much competition, we are even less tolerant of poorly designed websites because we know we can go elsewhere.
As consumers, we’re easily put off. If we have a bad experience on a website once, we’re less likely to go back and try again – one strike and you’re out. In fact, according to The Gomez report ‘Why Web Performance Matters’, “88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience” and nearly half felt it affected their perception of the company.
A successful website will draw people in and provide clear and relevant information. A strong brand and the use of storytelling in a narrative are vital to really connecting with your audience. To fully engage, we need to see ourselves within a brand.
It’s no surprise that one of the most viewed pages on websites is the ‘about’ page. If done well, it tells us the story behind the brand, the ethos, beliefs and the people. All the technology in the world cannot take away from the human element – “are these people like me?”
A website is a virtual shop window, with the potential to reflect everything good and bad about your business. Ultimately you want to encourage users to open the digital door but also give clear directions once they’ve opened it. If the user can’t find what they’re looking for or the process is too difficult, they will simply walk away.
With so much riding on a website, poor content and design really isn’t an option. We’ve put together some key checkpoints to maximise your website’s potential:
- Mobile first – According to research by Statistica 84% of adults in the UK own a smartphone, with mobile accounting for about half of web traffic worldwide.
- Look at the strength of your brand – Remember, your brand represents who you are and what you stand for
- Create a clear navigation – There’s no point having great content if no one can find it
- Don’t write like a robot – Use clear, conversational language to engage your audience
- Tell a story – Users need to see themselves within a brand to fully connect with it
- Include images and video – On average users spend 88% more time on a website with video than without (Codefuel).…..but
- Make sure your images/videos load quickly – There’s nothing more frustrating than watching the wheel of doom
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Make sure you’re following best practices so that the right people find your content. Start with a short memorable domain name
- Include clear calls to action – Make it clear to your audience what you want them to do and easily enable them to do it
- Include contact details – 44% of users will leave a site if there’s no contact information (UK Web Host Review)
- Keep your content fresh – Out of date content won’t make a good impression. Websites need to continue to adapt and evolve over time.
If your website isn’t ticking these boxes you may need our help. Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org