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You Only Get One Chance

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There is an old saying that “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” This is as true in web design as it is in interpersonal relationships. How can your web design influence people–customers in particular—to stay for a while and learn about your business? Here are some tips for making a good first impression with your web design. (They are highlighted in bold so you can get a quick summary.)

Is it fast?

When most people are “surfing the ‘net’,” they are usually looking for one of two things: entertainment or information. If you have an entertainment site, you have a lot more flexibility with your web design. You can use mystery navigation, where the visitor has to basically play “find the object” and click on it to navigate your site.

You may have a lot of fun, flashy things on your website, but perhaps the more important question is, is it fast? When you load your web design with tons of Flash Player effects, the page will load slower. If you’re a businessperson, this could make a difference in whether you keep a customer or not. So, take a look at your home page. If it has a lot of videos, GIFs, or streaming music–or all of those–it not only will make your site much more bulky to load, but it won’t even be available to some of your customers. Keep it simple and save the fancy stuff for other pages that the person may visit later.

Is it right?
You should validate everything you do on your website. If you add or take away a GIF, add streaming music, or include a photo album of past projects, check with your validation program to make sure it will “read” correctly on every browser. Otherwise, what works in Google Chrome may not work in Mozilla, and your Mozilla customers will just get a garbled mess that locks up their computer–NOT a good business move.

Is it clickable?
These days, most people expect a logo to also be a link. So any time you put your logo on the Internet, make sure it will link the customer back to your website. Make your logo clickable and your viewers will appreciate it. Otherwise, they may find themselves looking around for a link, get frustrated, and just move on.

Is it readable?
You just can’t say too much about this. Some of the biggest companies in the country have the worst websites when it comes to being able to read the content. Light blue text on white background, Christmas green on bright red–who can read that? If you want your visitors to spend some time on your website, don’t ruin their vision. There are some really good ideas out there for color combinations, and the key to your text and the background it’s on is one word–contrast. If two colors are the same tone, as in both dark, both light, or both bright, the content on your site will be hard to decipher, and most people will not be impressed.

First impressions can earn you instant customers or drive them away when they get frustrated with the function. If your website is not ready, do not publish it yet.