The Value of a First Impression

First impressions are powerful.

In business, personal relationships, or social situations, your first encounter with another person has an enormous impact on how others treat you and sets the trajectory for future interactions. For small businesses, a website is often the first thing potential customers will see. And for better or worse, your website brings with it the same opportunities and liabilities as a real world introduction.

The Wide View

Everything your site visitors see at a glance — colors, images, and fonts — will contribute to their immediate, visceral reaction to your business. This is called the wide view, and these sweeping generalizations matter. For example, sites with a home-grown feel may implicitly send the message that the business is immature or unprofessional. Improving your wide view is less about perfecting the details; it’s about creating a feeling of credibility, professionalism, and stability to encourage visitors to explore further.

Next-Level Impressions

Once visitors have moved past the wide view, they begin evaluating other site elements with a more discerning eye. Does the site work well on mobile devices? Is the navigation intuitive and reflective of current best practices? Does the site make effective use of images, and are those images updated and appropriate for the audience?

Digging Into Details

Consumer confidence may be rocked if visitors notice the site still has “Copyright 2002” in the footer or if the copy, photographs, or other content is out of date. These are easy fixes that just require a little regular maintenance. Be sure to schedule a periodic assessment of your site content to check for freshness.

Your Core Message

The final hallmark of a good first impression is have a clear message. Beyond business credibility, what do want a first-time visitor to take away from your site? Even if you have a lot to say, hone in on your most important message and boldly position it on the site. Remember, there’s a lot that goes into building an effective website, but the most important thing is to make a good impression. After all, there may not be a second visit if you don’t.

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