Making a Lasting Impression Staff

Updated · Oct 16, 2001

It’s a well know fact that first impressions go a long way – more so for a web site that’s trying to aggregate eyeballs and drive traffic.

Recently research conducted by the Usability Science Corporation revealed that unless a web site intuitively engages visitors within the first 30 seconds, then it may lose out on return-users and prospective customers. Key to ensuring an engaging site, they opine, is a pleasing and well-balanced arrangement of information and aesthetic content. They maintain that the presence of these qualities, especially on the home page (the first page that most first-time visitors are likely to see), significantly impact on a site’s viability in the long run.

According to researchers at USC, a Web site should be more than an advertising vehicle and product order form. A truly successful site, they muse, will focus on the customer experience while keeping self-promotion in the background. Such a site will facilitate intuitive navigation whereby a customer can navigate his or her way through a site with minimal effort.

More often than not, many customers that are ready to spend are forced to wade through cryptic or misleading links while being bombarded with flashing pop-ups and unnecessary applets. Often customers find that they’ve chosen a wrong path and must start-over – something that doesn’t bode well when there are thousands of sites out there to choose from.

To avoid upsetting users, the USC counsels that buttons or links must be as straightforward as possible. Furthermore they advise that the path from product to check-out be as direct as possible.

A simple way of gauging your site’s usability is to ask yourself whether ‘newbies’ or first-time users could quickly and intuitively navigate their way through your site, performing tasks and making purchases with little effort. Lastly, bear in mind that most people do, in fact, judge a book by its cover. The defining factor remains usability – if your site isn’t functional then it’s certainly un-hip in they eyes of prospective customers.

In an increasingly Net-savy world, customers expect a friendly experience when they visit your site and not a deluge of irrelevant information. USC is of the opinion that if a site is simple and attractive, it will continue to engage customers and drive traffic.

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