Applying the ‘First Date Principle’ to Web Design

Apparently, when we meet someone for the first time we form an impression of them within just 7 seconds. In this post I will apply the same theory to the web and argue that if you don’t make a great first impression online, your visitors may run off into in the arms of your competitors!

Reputation

Would you go on a date someone whose profile page was littered with comments about just how awful they were? In dating as in our internet habits, we take social recommendations very seriously, so make sure you are regularly monitoring social media for positive and negative brand mentions and responding constructively. Check out Sophie’s handy guide to reputation management.

Presentation

No-one’s saying your website needs to win any awards for beauty, but it should be well presented. Does it have a strong brand identity or was it cobbled together without a second thought? Does it instantly tell visitors what it is you do? For example, you would usually expect websites in the construction industry to use dark, industrial colours, straight lines and no-nonsense sans serif fonts while websites in the wedding market are more likely to use pastel shades, embellishments and script fonts. Sometimes breaking the rules can make you stand out from the crowd in a good way (Picasso, anyone?) – as long as you have a great reason for doing so.

Avoid the online equivalent of spinach in your teeth by thinking about responsive design – making sure your site displays well on different browsers and screen sizes – and ensuring all of your images are high resolution and nothing is spilling out of its content area. Opt for a clear, well spaced-out layout and you’re on to a winner.

Chat-Up Lines

We’ve all been on websites where we had to scroll through reams of generic text without learning anything unique or exciting about the product or service on offer. As a website owner you need to master the art of conversation and ensure your website copy has visitors hanging on your every word. Your blog is a great place to show visitors just how interesting you guys are. Do you have a ‘Meet the Team’ page? If not, stick some mug-shots up there and show visitors the personalities behind the brand.

Second date?

Your visitors have looked around and they like what they see! So how are you going to get them coming back long-term? Now is the time to think about added-value content. If you’re a travel company, why not create a tourist guide about the local area? Or review your pick of the best local wining and dining? How about inviting visitors to send in their best photos of the area to feature in your online gallery? Building great brands is about more than one-offs, so give visitors a reason to hit that ‘Favourites’ button.

Conclusion

With so much choice available online we are becoming increasingly impatient when it comes to websites. With just seconds to make a fabulous first impression, making sure you’ve got the fundamentals right will help you to beat off the competition!