Is Your Website Making a Good First Impression?

First impressions are everything. You’ve only got one chance to convince a visitor that lands on your website that you are professional, trustworthy, and worth their time. To make matters even more complicated you probably have about 50 milliseconds to do so according to the study. It suggests that 50 milliseconds is the time it takes for visitors to draw a conclusion about whether they like your website enough to investigate further.

Google confirmed the infamous 50 milliseconds number in their own research. In fact, according to their study, some opinions develop even within 17 milliseconds! Holy Canole. I have even more bad news. Approximately 96% of visitors that came to your website are not ready to buy and they will leave, never to return to your website again. So you are left with the 4% of visitors to impress and you better knock their socks off and wow them with your website. No pressure.

The good news is that there is a telling metric that you can use to determine whether or not your website is making a good first impression: bounce rate. Bounce rate is a measure of how many people leave your site after looking at just the first page, and if your bounce rate is very high it may be time to reduce bounce rate by tweaking your web design.

As a rule of thumb, a bounce rate in the range of 26 to 40 percent is excellent. 41 to 55 percent is roughly average. 56 to 70 percent is higher than average, but may not be cause for alarm depending on the website.

The home page is typically the first page visited and the most visited page on a website. Poor design is particularly associated with rapid rejection and mistrust of a website. When visitors don’t like some aspect of the design, the whole website will often not be explored further than the homepage.

Once on a company’s homepage, if you have done a good job of impressing them and keeping them there long enough, 64% of visitors then want to see the company’s contact information.

Sounds easy enough right? There’s a little more to it than that. For your homepage to be effective and as sticky as flypaper, it must possess 5 vital elements to keep visitors engaged and wanting to learn more about your brand or company.

What is the Brand All About?

What is the company all about? Once on a brand’s homepage, 52% of visitors want to see “about us” information. What is the narrative that will make the right first impression and keep the visitor scrolling through the pages or circumvent the site’s navigation and its content?

When you break it all down, the value you bring to the table needs to be established immediately. A great way to highlight what your company or brand is all about is to define your value proposition. Your value proposition is the statement that tells the world what you do and why anyone should care. You need to clearly express this through original imagery and clean copy. It should be at the forefront. Don’t place it at the bottom of the page; who is going to read it there?

You and everyone in your company should be able to answer the brand’s value proposition in a matter of seconds by looking at your website. But are you communicating that to your visitors fast enough?

If not, you should be. Visitors are coming to your site because you have the solution to their problem or you can fulfill their needs. Once on a company’s homepage, 86% of visitors want to see information about that company’s products/services.

Who is this product or service for?

What is your website selling? 47% of website visitors check out a company’s products/services page before looking at any other sections of the site. Who is your target audience? Are you speaking to them?One of the biggest factors of bounce rate is not resonating with the right audience. Another reason bounce rates are so high is that visitors are overwhelmed with the amount of information being placed in front of them. So keep it simple and easily digestible.

If the information on the page isn’t relevant or if there is too much of it, there will be a negative effect on the visitor’s first impression. Know your audience and then speak their language.

What is the cost?

How much do you charge for your services? What is the cost of the product? If you don’t have rate cards or price sheets, give the visitors a way to access this information or a way to ask for it. Provide a rate card in exchange for an email address or create a path for them to get the information quickly and accurately.

In the age of now — give the visitor the opportunity to connect with you via online chat or a way to text a question or call a representative to learn more. Give them an incentive. If applicable, providing a free 30-minute consultation or free content in the form of an e-book or catalog that they can download in exchange for their contact information is also a proven way of getting them to engage with your brand or company again.

How do I get started?

Provide the necessary steps and guide the visitors on how they can start working with you. You want to provide a clear path and direction for the visitors to go in. Implementing soft-calls to action along the customer journey ensures that they are being fed the right information at the right time, furthering their way down the funnel.

How does it work?

Explaining how your product works by using original instructional videos, professionally produced, of course, is a great way to explain how your product works. Infographics are another.

Once you feel you have your homepage covered and you can answer these 5 questions, you can then apply a few other tactics to keep bounce rate down throughout your website. Here are a few bounce rate reduction nuggets that are super simple but easily forgotten.

Crank up Your Load Times

39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load. The attention span and patience of the average person on the internet today is on par with that of a goldfish. The fact of the matter is that if the content on your site takes more than a second or two to load, the odds of a visitor growing impatient and clicking away increase exponentially. It’s crucial, therefore, to cut down on your load times as much as possible.

A majority of visitors will be using a mobile device to access your website. So it is of the utmost importance to choose images and graphics that are easy to load. Optimize your website as much as you can for speedy loading by using mobile-friendly images. In the end, doing so will pay dividends.

Provide Clear Calls to Action

Converting a visitor into a customer (or at least into a repeat visitor) is something that can rarely be accomplished with just one page. Instead, you will want to provide links on your home/landing page to other useful pages on your site.

As for which pages you link to, you’ve got a lot of options. You may want to provide a link to your blog or a specific article, a whitepaper, or maybe you want to generate more leads by providing a webform like “learn more” or “download our guide” to capture their email address. The goal is to hook and then continue to push them through the funnel and eventually into a customer or client. Are you creating calls to action to get visitors to return to your website by providing compelling content in the form of blogs or newsletters?

The options available are really only limited by the design of your website and what kind of experience/sales funnel you want to lead your visitors through. Wherever you link them to, though, the navigation on your site should always be natural, intuitive, and easy to access.

Don’t Give Visitors a Reason to Leave

While there a plenty of ways you can make a good impression on your visitors, there are also plenty of ways to make a bad impression on them as well. To avoid giving your visitors any reason to leave in a hurry, you will want to stay away from online annoyances such as auto-playing media, redirecting your visitors to a different page before they get to the one they clicked to, and popups (except for exit popups. At that point, you’ve got nothing to lose).

Be Professional or Hire One

At the end of the day, the best way by far to make a great first impression on your visitors and reduce bounce rate is to build a professional looking website. 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive. This starts with a web design that is crisp, clean, and attractive. Use only professional looking images and arrange them in a way that is easy on the eye. Next, you will want to fill your website with professional content.

Any written content you use on your website should be well-written, clear in its message, and error free. If you are not a writer or do not know of any writers that you can access to generate content for you, there are various writing services out there like Writer’s Access that provides writers to help create blog and newsletter content at an affordable rate.

Lastly, you’ll want to find a way to blend together your images, written content, and any other features of your site such as videos, buttons, and more in a way that looks like it was built by a professional rather than a kid in a basement somewhere. Unfortunately, this step isn’t always easy (which is why web designers are in high demand) but you will know when you’ve got it right. One way to ensure this is to work with a reputable agency or design firm. Leave it to the professionals.

Get Started Making the Right Impression

A good first impression is critical if you hope to convert a first-time visitor into a repeat visitor or, even better, a paying customer. Ask yourself what are the key takeaways that you want visitors to understand about your brand or company? By following the tips outlined above and continuously striving to improve the design of your website, you will be well on your way to making the right impression and convincing visitors to stick around.

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