In the world of content, books aren’t the only formats judged by their covers. Your website and how you present your content has the power to immediately compel visitors to read more or turn them off entirely — and if you want your audience to consume the content you’ve put so much effort into creating, you’d better make sure it lives on an engaging website.
Nielsen Norman Group reported that visitors will make a decision to stay or leave your site within the first 10 to 20 seconds, meaning you have a limited amount of time to make the right first impression.
It doesn’t matter how amazing your content is if no one in your audience sees it. While you can use a number of editing tools to create solid content and distribution tools to help your audience find it, your efforts won’t mean much if visitors leave your (poorly designed) site after a few seconds.
When asked to describe what exactly causes them to distrust a website, a whopping 94 percent of people cited bad design elements. In addition, 77 percent of major marketing agencies believe that a poor website user experience is one of the most significant weaknesses in marketing and branding.
Now, beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but inbound traffic, retention, and conversions do have some rules of engagement:
We’ve covered the basics of form and feel, but for a winning design that enables your inbound marketing, functionality is just as important. Think about it. If you’re shopping for a new car and a salesperson shows you the most beautiful car you’ve ever seen, you’d want to take it for a test drive, and you’d expect it to handle as beautifully as it looks. If it didn’t — if all the right pieces were there and looked great but none of them actually worked together — you wouldn’t buy the car.
That’s essentially the same as a beautiful website with high-quality content that isn’t accessible, functional, or easy to navigate. Upon first glance, your audience may want to take it for a test drive, but when they realize none of the pieces work together, they won’t buy.
To ensure you’ve mastered the basics of function, always remember:
There will always be a learning curve when it comes to building or improving your website design, yet some qualities of good design will stay the same. While visitors will likely remain quick to judge your site by its cover, you can ensure its first impression is a good one by following these principles.
Nik Donovic enjoys the business world and has worked in startups, entrepreneurial endeavors, and small businesses his entire post-college career. Online marketing, including a focus in inbound marketing is the core of his expertise.