Harvey Ramer

How to Know If Your Website Makes a Good First Impression

Making Effective Design Decisions

First impressions are powerful, and effective websites establish trust by communicating a clear brand message. Above the fold on your home page is the most valuable communication space available to your business. So it is here you must position your business through words and images. Connect with clarity, action, and beauty.

A hero image is important

What Is a Hero Image?

A hero image combines a graphic to arrest attention with a compelling headline, optional subhead, and at least one call to action. This pattern is ubiquitous on the web for a reason: when well done, it works.

When you pay attention to some simple principles, you are more likely to get results.

Clarity

Too often, our websites substitute clever catchphrases for clarity that would connect with potential customers. First-time website visitors have one question on their mind.

“What’s in it for me?”

Answer that, and don’t be cute.

We crave simplicity and expect it from others, but we struggle to speak clearly about our products and services. The only solution is empathy. When we understand how others think about our business, we can mirror that language back to them.

Make clarity your goal and support that goal by talking regularly to your prospects and customers. When you listen closely, you will discover ways to build trust and communicate the value you offer.

Action

The point of your website is to call visitors to action, and clarifying your offer is a good start. However, unless you directly ask people to do something, they will miss out on the benefits you can provide.

Many new business owners struggle with calls to action because they are bashful about their value. They worry that perhaps they will not be able to fulfill their promises. But this is fear seeking a way to escape. We must be bold, make an offer, and do everything to follow through and deliver on our promises.

Unclear language won’t protect us from pain or disappointment. Instead, it guarantees failure.

Take the time to remove the clutter, make a promise, and call your website visitors to action.

Beauty

Depending on your business, the level of visual refinement required can vary. But the bar is high. Potential clients judge every website on its fonts, colors, and use of images, and all of us can benefit from creating a professional look and feel.

Like a good realtor, a great designer will earn you more than it costs to hire them.

However, some simple principles can help even non-designers produce effective designs.

Contrast

Keep your text easy to read in all conditions. Select readable fonts and keep background textures to a minimum.

Always favor readability over aesthetics.

Use background colors consistently: light text over dark backgrounds and dark text over light backgrounds.

Repetition

Create patterns and use them. Rely on grids based on columns and rows. Use content boxes that group a headline, subhead, and body text.

In web design, repetition is good.

Since we are discussing repetition, I’ll reiterate: your most valuable landing pages need a compelling hero section with strong visual appeal and a clear call to action.

All your buttons should look similar but use some variation in color for primary and secondary actions. Your link colors must stay the same throughout all your website pages.

Being predictable is high praise when designing for clear communication.

Alignment

It is common for newbies to align text left, center, and right — just because they can. There is nothing wrong with left-aligned body text and centered headings, but don’t overdo it.

Do not use text alignment variation to be clever. Anything that sacrifices readability will frustrate busy readers who are taking a few seconds to give your business a chance to serve their needs.

Proximity

Share a complete thought in a single breath. Don’t expect readers to hang with you by scrolling to the end of your home page before making an offer. Instead, make small claims followed by a simple call to action.

As I said in my comments about repetition, create components that group elements together and form a complete thought at a glance. Communicate a message and give your visitors a way to respond in one compact package.

You Can Make a Great First Impression

Even without hiring a professional, you can create a beautiful website when you focus on,

  1. making a clear offer,
  2. calling visitors to take action,
  3. and creating functional beauty.

Take a few moments to update your website for some quick wins by applying these principles. Let us know how it goes!

Go Deeper

Use this simple worksheet to make a good first impression.

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