Your website is skin-deep

When it comes to your website’s ability to engage with viewers, there’s good evidence that design beats out other considerations we tend to think are important, including usability and content quality.

A new post by Peep Laja at CXL Institute pieces together independent research to make a strong case that marketers should allocation a majority of their resources to web design—or at least not to scrimp on it.

The high points:

• Reactions to your website are entirely visual. Visitors to your website form an opinion in 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds). Google’s research suggests this may happen even faster—17 milliseconds.

• Those reactions/opinions depend on structure, colors, spacing, and symmetry. Text density and fonts play crucial roles.

• The most appealing sites have low visual complexity and are highly similar to other sites in its category.

source: cxl

source: cxl

• A good first impression equals more time on-site. Visitors scan the following locations of the page they land on, in this order: logo area, main nav, search box, main image, written content, footer.

• Design rules: 94% of impressions are design-related. If the landing page is poor, they’ll rarely stay and explore. Poor design causes mistrust.

• Design is actually more important to appeal than usability. Invest in design.

For more on how and why design affects us mainly on an unconscious level, here’s an intriguing explanation by Bobby Caldwell, legendary professor of marketing at Kellogg School of Management.