It’s 2018—so you’ve probably realized by now that your website has an effect on the perceived credibility and quality of your business.
But very few people know just how colossal this effect actually is.
In fact, many businesses struggle to turn under-performing websites into websites that actually boost credibility and client acquisition.
Today, we’re going to present 17 crazy statistics about website first impressions, and fill your digital toolbox with strategies on how to change your website from client-repellent to enticing, user-friendly and conversion-driven.
Let’s get started!
As common as it is to say “don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” websites are subject to an extreme level of snap judgements that immediately influence perceptions of credibility.
It’s a simple matter of choice. Chances are—for any given search query (unless it’s super obscure) —there are multiple search results that fit the needs of the user. It’s simple economics:
A surplus of good options drives the price—or in this case, the level tolerance for bad websites—down. So yes, websites are judged swiftly and ruthlessly.
Don’t believe me?
Check this out:
I think I can guess which website you’re more likely to hold in high regard.
The best (and only) way to get rid of snap judgements on your homepage is to improve it’s design.
While this may feel like a massive undertaking, you can read on and implement what you’ve learned to make sure your redesign avoids the fatal 0.05 seconds in the future.
Now would probably be a good time for statistic #2:
Since users are making judgements on the credibility of your website in much less than a second, the most logical way you can impact this decision is with design.
Make sure your website doesn’t look like it was built in 2002 with some simple fixes.
Make sure your images look like they were taken this decade, and your fonts are either modern or timeless. There’s nothing quite like the laugh I get when I see Comic Sans on a website.
Another important factor of website modernity is aspect ratio, or the ratio of the width to the height of the screen. If your website sports a 3:4 aspect ratio, it’s a telltale sign to a user that it’s outdated and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Opt for a more modern 16:9 or even 4:3 aspect ratio to cater to the shape of most of today’s widescreen devices.
Doing one thing in particular can help you out with all of this.
We’ll discuss that next with statistic #3.
Have a website that users need to pinch and zoom on their mobile devices to view? That user is as good as gone—and they should be able to figure that out in 0.05 seconds.
Nowadays, all website should feature responsive web design. In other words, the display of the website should adjust based on the pixel width of the website upon which it’s being viewed.
If you have a responsive website, aspect ratio becomes less important, because the priority is filling the screen on every device in a way that is legible, compelling and easy to navigate.
Congratulations! You got past the 0.05 seconds of doom. Now what?
Well, you’re not quite out of the weeds yet! In fact, any snag a user hits on your site—whether it’s related to design or navigation—can be fatal to your chances of turning that user into a lead.
Here’s a great example:
Remember the Restoration Hardware homepage that I was praising in statistic #1? As it turns out, the cover looks a lot better than the book.
Design-wise, the site looks pretty good throughout, although this is helped in part by the great images of beautiful, luxurious products. But when it comes to the layout, the site can be a bit vexing.
When I hover over any category on the navbar, it gives me a dropdown menu. Nothing wrong with that—except for the fact that each dropdown menu has it’s own series of dropdown menus, creating a sea of nested content that can be extremely frustrating to find.
Not to mention the “SHOP RH MODERN”, which brings up a new dropdown that duplicates many items from the left column in the right column. I have a headache just thinking about it!
Not all websites that look good initially are good at getting the job done and converting users into leads and customers. In fact, if a website slips up at any point, users have made it clear that they won’t tolerate it.
Of course, dropdown menus with oodles of nested content aren’t the only layout and navigation flaw in the book. There are thousands—and the only real way to find them on your website is to understand how users interact with it.
Remember, even books with great covers can get put down halfway through. Make sure your website is well designed and well structured from start to finish.
Speaking of which:
The internet doesn’t hand out second chances. In fact, everything we’ve learned so far tells us that bad website design, outdated aesthetics and low usability are major credibility killers.
Try to get to the root of the issue.
If your website hasn’t been updated or redesigned in 5 years, the answer is probably pretty simple:
Implement some of our design tips from above and create a modern, responsive website.
But what if you recently completed a redesign and find that many users are bouncing, and your conversion rates are lower than expected?
Need more motivation?
This makes bad UX the most significant weakness agencies identified.
It seems as if there may be a pattern here:
User experience and design are not separate concepts. They couldn’t be more connected.
If a company fails to update and fix broken images on its website, what does that say about the company’s attention to detail and level of organization?
Probably not great things.
Similarly, images have the ability to significantly slow down the load time of the pages that house them, leading to even more user abandonment.
Which leads us to statistic #8.
Luckily, the culprit for slow load times of images is easy to identify: large file size.
While it may be tempting to pepper your website with beautiful, high resolution images, it can greatly detract from your website’s effectiveness. In fact, not only does slow load time effect user behavior by causing users to leave your site, it also affects SEO.
Here’s a free tool from Google to check the speed of your website’s pages, so that you can diagnose any potential loading issues:
Let’s be real—we all know what this means.
If you’re missing the mark when it comes to page speed, you’re also missing out on the chance to bring on new customers through your website.
When you think about it, it’s pretty incredible that the credibility of a company is so powerfully linked to the aesthetic quality of its website.
But it’s 2018, and a website serves as a window into the way a company operates. As such, it needs to exude credibility in every sense of the word.
When it comes to portraying credibility on a company website, step one is to have a modern, updated design that shows your company cares about its digital presence. This includes implementing all of the aspect ratio, image, font and layout information we discussed above.
But credibility is also driven through a website’s content, and content should always go hand in hand with design.
What do I mean?
A website’s content can be anything from images or videos displayed on the site to blocks of text describing your services, or a large headline. The way these pieces of content are integrated with your site’s design is just as important as what they say.
Good design relies on a seamless integration of quality, informative, and credibility-boosting content into the overall fabric of the site.
Make sure that your website’s content—whether in the form of images or text—reinforces its design. This way high quality aesthetics are bolstered with evidence of success, brand-defining statements, and images that keep users interested and engaged.
As we learned from our first statistic, it takes much less than a second for a user to form their opinion on the quality of a website.
We also discussed the fact that once your website passes the snap judgement test, it will have to keep it up in order to retain the user’s positive impression.
The next hoop your website needs to jump through is the user’s first conscious impression, which is typically an area on the landing page that will influence their perception of the website’s quality.
Users take an average of 2.6 seconds to find this spot, so it’s important to be engaging right away.
The key to creating a positive first impression is a combination of extreme clarity and quality design.
Every landing page should have a logical area where you want your user’s eyes to land. This area will most often be a line of text or media that introduces your company to the user.
Taking a screenshot of our own website’s user interaction data, we find that the most attention seems to go to the page’s headline, and then to the navbar, where users can learn more about the company or a specific service.
This is by design—since right off the bat, we want users to understand what we do: Minneapolis Digital Marketing and SEO—and why we do it: We’re ROI-Obsessed.
A map of where users’ cursors like to hang out on our homepage
To learn more about using Hotjar heatmaps and scrollmaps to analyze user behavior, check out this step by step guide.
If you want users to gravitate toward something specific on your website, try pushing that image or multimedia toward the top left of the page, and maintaining that same structure throughout the site.
Eye-tracking studies analyzing user behavior have found that users mimic the way that they would read a book when they scan websites:
They start at the upper part of the content area, reading horizontally from left to right, then move down and read a smaller quantity of content from left to right.
Finally, users tend to scan the content’s left side vertically from top to bottom.
Try to order the pages of your website in this way, so that users see the content that will influence their credibility and potential purchasing decisions front and center.
Images are great. They add depth and significance to a user’s impressions of a website while spicing things up.
This statistic shows us that users do in fact pay attention to the main image on a web page, so it’s important to make sure that this image communicates effectively and reinforces the brand.
Choose images that are relevant to your product or service offering and will not distract from the overall objective of the website.
Most importantly, don’t go overboard.
It may feel like an image slider is a good idea, because it gives you the ability to portray your company in multiple different settings, or allows you to pitch a variety of offers—but most statistics point to sliders actually having a detrimental impact on conversion and user opinion.
Sliders tend to distract users from what they were originally doing on your website. Not to mention, the fact that users only spend 5.94 seconds on the homepage image means that first image in the slider is usually the only one that users see.
In fact, here’s a chart from Instapage showing the massive discrepancy between click-through rates of slider images at different positions.
I don’t know about you, but 5.59 seconds doesn’t seem like a lot of time to soak in the written content on a website’s homepage.
So how is it possible to convey a positive image of your company on your website in such a short time?
Remember statistic #4, when we briefly discussed the nested content that lives in the seemingly endless dropdown menus on the Restoration Hardware website?
The reason for the many dropdowns has to do with the fact that Restoration Hardware can’t possibly display every single product, along with its specs, reviews and prices on one page.
This concept is called progressive disclosure, which is just a way of saying “people aren’t bombarded with content they don’t need right away, but they can find anything by digging deeper into the website if they need to.”
As long as it’s easy (and not confusing) for users to find what they need, progressive disclosure can be a great way to create a better user experience on your website.
Keeping in mind the fact that users spend an average of 5.59 seconds per page consuming written content, it’s imperative that this content is as effective as possible at portraying your company in a positive light and getting your users where they need to go on the site.
Believe it or not, users want to know what your website wants them to do. They may not always do it, but that’s a different story.
Your website is a great credibility boosting tool that serves to inform users on your products or suite of services—but most importantly, it’s your online point of sale.
If I get locked out of my house and I urgently search Google for “locksmith near me”, I need help right away. If a website lacks a clear way for me to immediately get in contact once I’ve briefly vetted the company, what’s the point?
A locksmith is an example of a commonly used service that requires immediate action, but even companies with a longer sales cycle can benefit immensely from having some sort of call to action on their homepage.
It tells users what you have to offer while making it as easy as possible to purchase a product or request a service.
The type of CTA you feature will depend on the type of business you run, but if your homepage lacks one, users will choose to go elsewhere.
Nobody likes big blocks of text accompanied by more big blocks of text. It’s boring and one-dimensional.
Depending on the search query that leads a user to your website, the homepage may not be the first page that they find. Instead, it’s possible that a user may land on a more content-heavy page that better satisfies their search intent.
With that said, every page on your website should be well-designed and built to maximize user engagement—not just your core marketing pages.
If I land on a piece of content that looks like a college research paper, I’m likely to avoid it in favor of a piece that offers more excitement and is easier to consume.
Create all content with the user in mind, whether it’s your services page or a blog post.
On your company’s core marketing pages, be sure to use enough detail to educate users, but don’t provide enough to confuse or bore them.
In a blog post, where content should be more comprehensive and actionable, be sure to break up large blocks of text and include plenty of subheadings and lists to facilitate reading.
On all pages, try to include images, videos or graphics that reinforce your content and add to its depth.
Our final two statistics are the perfect reminder of the importance of website first impressions:
The participants noting that websites were often found to be too complex, busy and lacking in navigation aids.
The study also cited participants commenting on boring design, bad use of color, excessive pop up advertisements, inadequate introductory content, small print, too much text, a corporate look and feel, and an ineffective search feature.
This includes website layout, typography, font size and color schemes.