Everyone knows you only get one shot at a first impression. Worse still, in business that initial interaction can be the deciding factor between success and failure. It’s believed that an opinion of what someone will be like to work with takes place within the first seven seconds of meeting, which isn’t a huge amount of time to sell yourself.
Things get worse online. This rule is also true for a website, after all, except here a reader can just ignore you and click away. This means making that first impression is a crucial part of any website, and there are a lot of things that need to be considered in order to make a great one.
More important than the words, more important than the look of the page, more important than even the topic you’re covering: if your website isn’t quick to load, then the fight to keep your readers on site is going to be an uphill battle from the very start.
There are a few techniques that you’ll want to consider to reduce the loading time of a page, but if your site takes more than a small handful of seconds, then you’re in danger of losing the visitor at the first hurdle. Optimize images, minimize code, and send only necessary data; do absolutely everything in your power to reduce the time it takes to load.
Make the Words Matter
Most media brands like ours rely on the content they create. While the copy does need to have purpose and value for the reader, it’s equally crucial to remember that the content needs to be forgiving.
This means the text should ease the reader in: don’t show off with fancy words or overcomplicate sentences with too much punctuation. The simpler your language is, the easier it is to understand and therefore the more accessible it is.
Draw Them In
Writing a strong intro is a surefire way to captivate a new visitor when the risk of them leaving is at its highest. If your intro can capture their interest and make them certain the info they’re looking for is in this article, then the hard part is already done.
This is perhaps secondary to the headline, however, which does the work of drawing a visitor onto your site before they’ve even clicked the link. A good headline will let the visitor know exactly what the content on the web page is, grab their attention, and get them wanting to find out more.
A Picture Is a Thousand Words
When paired with a powerful headline, an equally strong image can be a great way to keep the reader on the site. Humans are visual creatures by nature and a relevant, high-quality, and interesting image will ease a visitor into the content.
There are many opinions surrounding just how much space this image should take up on the page, but there has to be a balance: enough to draw the reader in, but not so much that they can’t start reading the article straight away.
Studies show that internet users are platform agnostic, meaning they are likely to start searching on their mobile, move over to desktop while also using a tablet. It’s cyclical, and you need to be present on all of possible platforms.
Compatibility doesn’t just mean that your website will load on every platform either, but instead that it will work well. This means it has to look presentable on each platform, run smoothly and without flaws and – as we’ve already tried to tell you – load quickly.
There’s no doubt that style is the most personable part of any website, but there are still certain restrictions that should guide your preferences. A suitable font – meaning something that is easy to read – is imperative, while a larger font size with clear spacing between lines makes it less of an attack on the eyes for a newcomer to the site.
Formatting can help to guide the user, too, using bolding to draw attention to key topics and pointing to significant info within the intro to tell the reader that they will find what they are looking for in the body copy.
Prove You’re Trustworthy
Users will make assumptions of how much they can trust your website based on how recognizable your branding is and the general aesthetic design of your website. Too much clutter or too many distractions can negatively impact this.