How long do you think it takes visitors to decide whether they want to stay on your website? 10 seconds? It's more like 50 milliseconds according to this research.
If your bounce rate is high, too many of your website visitors are landing on your website, taking a look and going elsewhere. What does that say about the first impression you’re making?
People who browse the web aren't snobbish, but the fact is they have a lot of alternatives to look at. That's why you have to make a good first impression on website visitors: to guarantee they stick around long enough for you to show them how great you are.
Here are seven ways to make sure they do:
1. Remove long waits
Never forget that the very first thing your visitors see is your page loading. Images gradually appear, buttons randomly pop-up, links become clickable and in the meantime your visitors are left waiting. The longer it takes for your page to load, the worse the impression you’re making.
- Use a website speed tracker to analyse your site.
- Follow the given advice to improve your site's performance.
- Compare your website load time to your competitors and ensure you're not falling behind.
2. Highlight your key information
What’s the next thing they see?
Website visitors scan webpages very quickly, and do so roughly in an ‘F’ shape according to an eye-tracking study.
Make sure you display any information you don’t want your visitors to miss – like your business’s name or your key call-to-action– boldly and clearly above the fold of your website, preferably on the left half of the page.
3. If it’s broke, fix it
Nothing ruins a first impression of a website more than things that aren’t working.
Broken links, banners that block your content, perpetually buffering videos: mistakes like this scream, ‘we don’t put much effort into our website and we probably won’t break our backs for you either’.
4. Give the people what they want
Think about it: what do you go to a website for? What information do you want to find? Are you normally prepared to click through endless similarly named pages to find that information?
No. Neither are your visitors. They want information upfront in a way that’s attractive and easily accessible.
- What you do. It shouldn’t take an industry expert to decipher what it is your business actually does. Avoid acronyms, reject jargon and explain what you do for your clients in plain English. Our homepage isn’t perfect, but our visitors instantly know the results we aim to give for our clients:
- How you make that happen. Although the most important thing your potential clients should read about is the results you can give them, they’re also going to want to know what you do to make those results happen. Ensure the equivalent to your ‘Services’ or ‘Products’ page is easily accessible from your menu. On our menu bar, we have a 'What we do' page which goes into detail about each type of work we do and how it drives results for our clients.
- An about page. A well-written ‘About us’ page is where website visitors will learn the distinctive information about your business that makes you stand out. Make sure the link to yours is clearly visible in your menu.
Research shows at least 50 percent of sales are lost when people can’t find relevant information. Even worse; 40 percent of those disappointed visitors don’t return. Don't let that happen on your website: avoid disappointment and make it clear where they can find the information they wan.
5. Avoid in-your-face design
Some websites instantly launch a sales offensive on their visitors:
- Instant pop ups. Pop ups can add value to a website visit, but you should time them so they're not the very first thing your visitors see.
- Interstitials. On some websites, such as Forbes, the website visitor is re-directed to a different page before they reach the content they clicked through for. As a general rule, this tactic is confusing and frustrating.
- Auto-playing multimedia. Thankfully, I see this less and less nowadays. But, some websites still have videos which pop-up and start annoying you until you find the source of the sound and close it.
These elements frustrate website visitors because they barrage them with information they haven’t asked for. Make a good first impression on website visitors: don't stress them out with unnecessarily aggressive design.
6. Keep it tidy
Your visitors will stay longer if your website is simple, plain, clear, big and bold.
A clean, uncluttered website with lots of white space is more attractive than a densely packed, content-heavy one.
7. Link them to other pages
You're not likely to change a first-time website visitor to a customer all in one page, so make sure you have content or web pages that you can link them to so as to keep them engaged.
- The blog. Well-written blogs talk about problems faced by your ideal website visitors, and how they can solve those problems. When the right website visitor comes along, they'll read the blog articles that solve their problems, want more and might even subscribe to your newsletter informing them when you publish new blog posts.
- Downloadable content. Give your website visitors something for free that they can take away with them. If your visitors download content which they find useful, they'll come back for more.
Both of the above tactics are steps towards taking first time visitors and turning them into future customers. If you want to learn more, read our Complete guide to website marketing.
Love (or hate) at first sight
Pressed for time and used to instant gratification, we all judge websites in an instant. Think about your last positive website discovery. What were they doing that grabbed your attention and held it? Compared to the thousands of websites you've forgotten about, that site stays in your memory.
You want your website to do the same. Make sure your site can grab your visitor's attention, hold their interest and stick in their memory afer they've gone. After all, you may only get one chance.
For much more on website design, download our free guide to website marketing. Follow the link below:
See also: website optimisation
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