Striking the First Impression in Web Design
When it comes to web design, there are many different aspects that must be looked at and polished before a client is truly happy. In most cases, and not unlike many other jobs out there, most of these elements usually go under-looked and unnoticed. This being the case, good designers still put in the time and effort because they understand that the little things can make a huge difference. The little things create good first impressions.
I find this to be a fascinating topic - one that allows me to understand how the idea of design is better perceived by individuals.
Is design simply just a structure for code? Or is it the code that complements the design?
I believe that this depends on the individual, but whatever you may think about design, the truth is that first impressions are very important.
Personally, I believe that first impressions are probably one of the most important aspects in web design. Being able to achieve a good first impression can go a really long way if you are able to follow up with good content and a unique approach. It is a sort of gateway – a strong introduction if you will.
When you walk in for a job interview, it is normal to be judged. Employers judge us by the way we dress, the way we fix our hair, the things we say, and most importantly by our body language.
Now, regardless of how good of a candidate you are… it is more likely that those who seem to be the best candidates (best dressed, etc) are the ones who will get the job. Whether or not they are the ones who will perform best is a different story.
A good first impression in web design is similar to this. A nicely designed website – one that is attractive and well structured is the one that will gather more interest from viewers. Whether or not the website is any good is a different story.
Is It Enough?
No, of course not. I don’t think that a good first impression is enough - quite far from that actually. A good first impression should be made only to introduce your website in a friendly and approachable way… and as such, is not the cause for repeat views.
A good first impression will only make sure that once people actually come across your website, they will stop and take a second to go through your content. Obviously, it is up to you to create great content with catchy titles and witty puns to guarantee a return.
In the real world, it’s kind of like the pretty stereotypical blonde that everyone wants to date, but once they do – they realize that their inability to partake in a conversation with her due to her materialistic mind and lack of knowledge is a complete turn off – and thus, no return views.
In this case, the young lady’s pretty face is the good first impression; her lack of knowledge is the bad content. Now, if things were different and she was in fact interesting as well as pretty, then things will be different. A good first impression + great content = return views!
A Good First Impression
I think that in order to create a good first impression, a website needs to be a lot more than just a pretty looking site. Good design is fine, but it is not enough. Here are my two cents on what can be added to make sure your site is noticed before all else!
A Little Bit of Character
Character character character – this one is important. It’s the reason why we can relate to the movies we watch and the songs we listen to. It’s what makes us who we are. Unique. Individual. It’s the human touch - it’s all about human emotion. It’s simple.
In its most basic form, adding your own character to a website will allow for first timers to relate to you. Everybody wants to relate, and by making your site personal and adding a bit of who you are to the mix, viewers get to feel a bit of you in themselves.
This can be done by the way you write, colors used, the typography... just as long as you are true to yourself and are bringing your own style and touch to the tables, then this should be fine.
It is always fun and interesting trying to imitate the design of other popular sites and blogs, but I don’t see this as an ideal way to do things. Be yourself, it will allow others to relate.
Just Scan It
On doing research for this article, I came across a great read by Annabel Candy on 'Copy Blogger' about a similar topic. One of the main points that stood out to me was how she mentioned that it is best to create a site design that is easy to scan.
This includes, but is not limited to - headlines, first paragraph reads, page tabs, catchy titles, profile photos, etc.
It is normal for viewers to spend no longer than a couple of seconds on your site before they move on, so make sure that you can give them everything they need to know within that time frame! This includes who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
Take advantage of this, it will make a huge difference!
Here are a few sites and blogs I discovered and have become a fan of simply from a good first impression.
I love Pugly Pixel. It’s simple and clean design allows for a strong focus on content. It is definitely one of those rare sites that captured my interest instantly.
Creature Comforts was designed with pretty in mind. It boasts a lot of character and is very pleasant to look at.
The Fox is Black
I’ve only recently come across this blog, but what stood out the most to me is how good the blog posts look. A perfect combination of photos and text.
I love their recent redesign. It is current, modern, minimalistic, and very clean. It is definitely easy on the eyes and gives off a great first impression.
Simple but effective – powerful and to the point. Devour proves to the world that good design need not be complicated.
I really enjoy David’s use of white space and typography. I especially enjoy the look of his articles under the ‘blog’ tab.
I’m a big fan of Jonathan Moore and appreciate his design work very much. I love his style and must admit that his tumblr is probably one of the best looking tumblrs I have ever seen.
One of my favorite blogs – Mashable is modern, clean and professional. A great combination for a good first impression.
In a nutshell, first impressions are important. We live in a fast moving world where millions of web pages surface daily... it’s hard to get noticed. But the good thing is that not everyone is a designer. Not everyone knows the importance of a good first impression. And most importantly, not everyone has character.
In life, it is often the little things that make a big difference… the details in the fabric – and this is one of them. First impressions are important.
Feel free to leave your comments below – it is always interesting to hear what others have to say about this.