Your website is increasingly the first impression a customer has of your business. According to annual research conducted by the Pew Research Center, 84% of American adults are using the internet. Further research from Google (in partnership with Ipsos Media) indicates that about 80% of them search for products and services online, and up to half of those will visit a store the same day they conduct the search.
All of this means that when a customer in your market begins searching, their first contact with you is very likely to be your website. If your website leaves a negative impression, they disengage and are off to one of your competitors instead. Your website helps them to form an immediate impression of your business; you don't want that impression to be that you are not competent enough to maintain a page that loads and functions properly, or that you don't care enough to provide proper information about your services.
Good design may initially seem like a non-essential expense, but when you get a sense of the lost business that bad design costs you, it quickly becomes clear it's both a necessary and wise investment.
The Damage Bad Design Can Do
Let's put some firm numbers on the potential cost of bad or inexperienced website design.
Customers generally expect a page to load within two seconds. They'll stick around for up to 10 seconds if the page partially loads, but if they haven't seen what they are looking for by then, they are almost universally gone and probably not coming back. These studies additionally show that conversion rates are highest if the page fully loads within two seconds. For every additional second it takes, you can expect a 7% drop in conversion rates.
We've talked a lot about first impressions so far, but that doesn't mean that your homepage or landing page is the only area of the site that requires effort. You should expect that up to half of your visitors will make their first contact with your site through a secondary or tertiary page. They'll reach these pages through search engines, forum posts and social media shares from other people. Visitors might not even make it to your impressive main page if the secondary page they land on is in disrepair.
A recent study by Adobe has found that 38% of your visitors will disengage from your site if they find it unattractive or don't like the layout. Of course, attractiveness is subjective, and you can't please every possible taste. There are certain core design techniques and standards employed by professional graphic designers that can ensure that visitors find a site visually pleasing enough so that it doesn't bother or disturb them, however.
The share of users that primarily access the web through mobile devices or tablets is continuing to grow. Sites that are designed exclusively for desktops or laptops don't necessarily translate well on their own to these smaller screens and touch controls. Responsive and adaptive web design are increasingly critical; these are techniques a professional designer can implement to have a site automatically detect the device the end user is viewing it with and adjust accordingly. As seen in the Google/Ipsos study cited above, the rate of same-day visits doubles when a user makes contact with your website via a smartphone, so it's critical that the experience be tailored to their device limitations.
What Are Some Bad Design Elements That Can Trip Up Your Website?
Bloat: Too many widgets that aren't providing real value, poorly configured or programmed widgets, uncompressed graphics, ads with audio or video and too many pictures on one page are the main offenders.
Auto playing Videos And Audio: This is a contentious point, as certain businesses have found these to be profitable with certain demographics. These are a poor choice for many sites, however, especially small businesses with a local focus. Aside from potentially annoying the customer, they may bog down the page loading speed and cause mobile customers with data caps to never come back.
Confusing Navigation: Some examples of navigation schemes that frequently confuse visitors include the use of non-intuitive symbols in place of words, lots of white space that serves no purpose and elements that have to be hovered over to determine what they are.
Would you like to learn more about how good design directly translates into improved customer relations, traffic and business? Contact us for a free consultation.