Wednesday, March 25, 2009

First Impressions - Make Sure Your Website Follows These 10 Things

By Kimberly Reddington

When someone first visits your website, you have 10 seconds to WOW them. It is in those first 10 seconds when someone decides to either leave or look around. Here are ten things to think about when analyzing your website:

1. Your website should appear professional, clean and simple.

When you walk into a physical store, you are more apt to buy from a store that is clean, easy to walk around the aisles, sells quality products that are neatly placed on shelves or racks, and has a friendly yet well-established feel. Your website should have a similar look and feel. Avoid clutter, allow for white space around items and make it easy for the visitor to move around.

2. Your navigation should be easy and simple.

If your visitors are having trouble finding what they are looking for immediately, it is much too easy for them to return to their search and find a competitor with easier navigation. Keep navigation in a prominent location with simple to use tabs and links.

3. Select an attractive and comfortable color palette.

Learn what colors your audience prefers, as well as the impression you are trying to set off. If you want to relax your visitors, then use subtle and light colors. If you want to excite your visitors, then use vibrant colors. Stick to colors and shades that work well together. Use a color wheel to see which colors complement each other.

4. Create a branding statement and utilize that statement throughout the whole website.

Your business should have a special brand that makes you stand out from competitors. Your brand is your unique look that grabs your visitor's attention. Place your brand prominently near the top of your home page or landing page. Make sure to keep you brand throughout the whole site to give everything a consistent look and feel.

5. Display what your business is all about.

Your visitors will only spend 10 seconds perusing your site before deciding to move on. Make sure that they learn what your business is all about within those first 10 seconds. If your url or business name doesn't easily explain your business purpose, then make sure to create a tagline and use that as part of your branding statement.

6. Make sure that important "calls to action" are in places where the user can see them.

Most visitors will not read your entire home page. People tend to peruse a web page quickly. The use of colors and bolding can make important words and phrases stand out more and catch the reader's attention. Make sure that important links or buttons are easy to see, stand out, and are not too far down the page.

7. Prominently display quality graphics and images.

Graphics and other images on your website will grab your visitor's attention much more than text. Make sure that your images are high quality graphics and are optimized for fast loading.

8. Use photos to display the quality of your products.

Since visitors cannot pick up your products to look at them, they rely on images and graphics. Use attractive images and photos that are large enough to show important details.

9. Use stand-alone web pages.

Unlike a magazine or catalog, you cannot predict which web pages your visitor will read first, next, or last. Avoid having content in your pages that is dependent on your visitor having seen another page first. Make sure each page can stand on its own.

10. Test your navigation and links.

Test your completed design by showing it around to others. See how they navigate. Asking your testers open-ended questions will help you to get a feel for how they are perceiving your look and the navigation. Are they having trouble finding certain features of your site?

Your website may be your visitor's first impression of you and your business. Colors, images, fonts, text and other visuals will bring out certain feelings and thoughts the second a visitor views their first web page of your site. You want to be sure you are sending out the right messages that are inline with what your niche is expecting.

Kimberly Reddington, Moms in Business Thoughtleader for, teaches moms how to turn their skills and talents into a successful home-based service business and to find a balance between their business and their family. Discover Kim's popular special report by visiting

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