How to Make a Good First Impression with a Website

by Alexis Krisay

A brand has one chance to make a first impression. In this fast-paced digital world, there are many opportunities for a potential customers or stakeholders to learn about a company and have that first impression before any actual conversation even happens. That means a company’s digital presence has to be rock solid, and it all starts with a website.

No matter what purpose the website serves, it is vital to consider what it says about the company’s brand. Here are three ways a website can make a great first impression to capture users’ interest and keep them coming back for more.

Say No to Auto-Play

There is nothing worse than visiting a site in a coffee shop or at the office and have a video or song suddenly blasting through the speakers. At that moment, while the site visitor is awkwardly attempting to shut off the sound, chances are good that she will simply close the browser and leave that website. Rather than risk having this cause users to not return to the website, businesses should, instead, design a homepage to have engaging and captivating elements without completely overwhelming visitors. If video or music is important to the site, businesses should not hesitate to include it on the homepage — but they should let the user decide whether to engage by clicking or hovering to begin playing.

Navigation Success

Once a user reaches the site, there should be a clear path for him to find the information he needs and stay involved. One way to direct traffic is to implement a navigation bar prominently on each page of the website. A well-designed and well-thought-out navigation strategy will keep users interested and build trust with the site’s audience. Visitors are more likely to leave a website altogether than to spend time looking through it to find what they are looking for. A company website works hard to capture its traffic; in order to not lose that traffic, businesses should engage the users with interesting content and keep the navigation simple.

Reflect the Core Values of the Business

The website is an extension of the business’s brand and should accurately reflect the core values of the organization. Consider what the website’s messaging, colors and overall energy say about the company. Is it aiming to be the thought leader in its industry? It might be time to consider a website design that portrays this to the audience and supports additional content. Is the organization looking to attract a younger audience and customer base? It may be worthwhile to add aspects of color and large visual imagery to the site. If the business or organization follows branding guidelines, it is best to stick with the tones and specific colors provided. However, if there’s more of a free range, the business may find inspiration in the feelings it wants users to feel when they visit the site. For example, Pantone’s color of the year is Greenery, a fresh and zesty yellow-green, which could make a great addition to a site’s color palette refresh.

Ensuring a website makes a great first impression is extremely valuable in keeping the interest of the audience and maintaining the reputation of the business’s brand, but there are other ways as well to make a website user-friendly.

Alexis Krisay is partner and president of strategic marketing at Serendipit Consulting, a Phoenix-based boutique public relations, marketing and branding firm.

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