Immediate opinions and impressions are formed the moment a new visitor arrives at your website. Even though the first impression comes within just a few seconds, it can take a very long time to reverse a negative first impression, if you’re given the chance at all. In a competitive marketplace a bad first impression is likely to be the last encounter that visitor has with your website, as they’re unlikely to return.
In order to create a positive first impression, you have to know specifically what your goals are for the first few seconds of a new visit. It may sound obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Here are 5 questions to ask yourself about the first impressions that are being created by your website.
1 – Are You Professional?
Most of my readers are online for business or money-making purposes. If the industry you are competing in is professional in nature, your website should live up to the expectations of new visitors. While there is no exact definition of what a professional website looks like, I think we all know the unprofessional ones when we see them. And when you come across one of these websites, what is your first impression? Personal websites and blogs have more freedom in how they can present themselves since they have different agendas.
2 – What is Your Purpose?
What are you trying to accomplish with your website? Product sales? Gain subscribers? Draw clicks to PPC ads? Whatever your purpose is, it should be clear to visitors within seconds on your website, and you should make it easy for visitors to take the action that you want them to take. If your goal is to sell products you certainly don’t want to make it difficult for visitors to find what they want.
3 – Are You Giving a Consistent Message?
The message that visitors see when they arrive at your website should be consistent with whatever promotional efforts you use. If you use online advertisements and a visitor clicks through on a banner ad they will have a certain expectation about what they will find at your website based on the message that they received from your advertisement. Consistent messages are especially important if you’re using several different forms of marketing.
4 – Are Visitors Comfortable with You?
Doing business online brings some unique challenges that may not exist in face-to-face relationships. New visitors are likely to be skeptical of your credibility. You can help to put people at ease by including:
- An “about” page with information about you or your company.
- Contact information, and an easy way for visitors to email you.
- Security information (if you are asking for payment online).
5 – Are Advertisements More Important than Your Readers?
While ads are obviously very common online, you don’t want visitors to feel like they are less valuable to you than your advertisers. Placing ads in subtle locations that will not distract or annoy readers is a good way to avoid negative first impressions. Some visitors will leave right away if they spot excessive advertising.
If you are unsure about the answers to any of these questions seek the advice of others. Ask friends, people in your network, or visit an online forum for advice. That should help you to get a few outside opinions that are likely to be reflective of the opinions of your visitors.