The Top 10 UX Influencers

First impressions are just important on the Internet as they are in real life.  We only have a few seconds to impact the person we meet in real life, it’s no different on the Web.  You only have a few seconds before when a first time visitor to your site for the first time an initial impression will be formed pretty quickly. A good first impression will drastically increase the chances of that visitor returning again, and a bad first impression will be difficult to overcome.

The following are what I would consider the primary factors for a great first impression, but not a comprehensive list. Feel free to list some others in the comments that you think should be included. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Load Time – Making sure that your site loads quickly and in its’ entirety in less than two secords is very important.  With most of us wanting instant gratification we have no patience for slow loading websites.  Pages that load quickly encourages visitors to navigate through your site knowing that they won’t have to wait very long for each page to load.

2. Logo/Branding – Another factor in the overall look of your website is your company’s logo and branding of it within the site.  The look of your logo and it’s position within the pages of the site brands you business in the way that you want visitors and customers precedes your company.

3. Header Images – Dominant header images are often used and they can have a strong effect on first impressions. It catches the visitors attention as can draw attention to particular parts of any page.

4. Layout
– One of the most important first impression elements is the layout. Whatever layout you use should draw the reader’s attention to those items that are most important. Layout can be used not only to create an attractive design, but also to make the site easy for visitors to use. While most websites use a fairly standard design, a good way to make your site stand out is to use a more creative layout. Just make sure that your creative layout adds to the effectiveness of the website rather than detracting from it.  Remember the old saying, “Less is more!”, still holds true when designing an effective layout.

5. Ease of Navigation – We’ve probably all been at websites that looked like they had great content that we wanted to read, but just couldn’t find what we wanted. I’m not sure if there is anything more frustrating on a website than poor navigation. On the other hand, well-constructed navigation can help visitors get to the content they want and have a very positive experience on the site.

6. Clarity of Purpose
– New visitors should be able to very quickly determine the purpose of a website. Many sites effectively incorporate this into their branding by using a descriptive tag line that sums up the site’s purpose.   Within a website an About Us or Our Company pages are also helpful for communicating purpose.

7. Quality of Images and Photos – It’s amazing how much impact a high-quality photo or graphic can have on a design. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources online for getting high-quality, low-cost photos, and some are even free. Searching for a good free picture may not be worth the time it takes when you can find one faster and pay $1 or $2 at such sites at iStock Photo or Big Stock Photo.

8. Accessibility – Accessibility is a big buzzword in web design. The reality is that not all of your visitors will fall into the mold of the average visitor when landing on your website for the first time. Some will have handicaps, some will use older browsers, some will have slower connections, etc. If your website is not accessible to a visitor it’s almost guaranteed to create a bad impression.  Taking the time to plan your site carefully with the help of a professional designer can eliminate many of these issues

9. Video and Audio
– More and more us are gaining access to high speed connections which allow us to have greater access to those websites that have rich audio and video content. With the success of YouTube it doesn’t take long to realize that audio and video content will make a great impression.  Remember that as a general rule with both audio and video is that it should not start automatically without the user choosing to have it start.

10. Quality of Content
– Of course quality content cannot be left off this list. While content may not have an instant impact like some of the factors that relate to the design of the site, it will have a significant impact on visitors that stick around for a minute or so. This is a big factor especially for soical networking sites as blogs and forums. A first-time visitor that finds really great content will remember their visit and even go as far to bookmark your website.  Assuring what I like to call a repeat offender that will come back to your site time and time again if you take the time to keep your content fresh and relevant to there needs.

What would you like to add to the list?  I welcome your comments!

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