This question is at the heart of any good web designer. No matter how beautiful a website is, how creative the imagery, how sleek the font, none of it matters if the site hasn’t been built with an insight into how people will interact with it.
Where Do People Look On Websites?
Let’s start with the layout. This is a topic I discuss in most of my articles because the visual hierarchy is an essential element of building a website. With the exception of a few languages and cultures, most people read from left to right. It comes as no surprise that when looking at websites, most people tend to look at the left side of a page more than they do the right.
Some studies suggest that the amount of time spent on the left side of the page is as high as 80%. This is well worth considering when organising the layout of your landing page. Keep those key messages and CTAs on the left of your site, or bring it all into the centre of your page. I’ve said it before, if it works for Amazon, it’s probably worth replicating.
What Are They Looking At?
The next element of your site that shouldn’t be overlooked is the quality of your images. The visual aspect of images play an important role in building trust and a feeling of humanity when visitors interact with your website, so avoid stock images of models or poor-quality, low-resolution images.
The perceived wisdom is for images of people to appear genuine, ideally of your own team, and to be demonstrating positive body language. A few tips for taking photos:
- Keep your subjects forward-facing
- Authenticity is better than perfection
- Take high-resolution images
What Is Distracting Your Visitors?
As important as it is to draw your site’s visitors to your core information, it’s equally important to prevent them from getting lost along the way.
SEO is critical for your website, but all the SEO in the world won’t help if your written content is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. Minor oversights in your content may not seem like a big deal in isolation, but they convey carelessness and lack of attention to detail – and what does that say about you to potential customers?
The length of your content can also be distracting for visitors. Too short, and it doesn’t convey all the information it should – but too long, and it will bore visitors, and they’ll leave. Keep your copy concise, to the point, and easy to read. If this isn’t your strong point, delegate it to a professional copywriter. Many web designers can recommend someone in the industry or even bundle the content with your design.
And lastly, consider the links you’re using on your site. I often see websites with external links to Youtube and social media platforms – the ultimate distraction! Don’t give visitors a reason to leave your site. The fewer distractions, the better.
Who Are Your Visitors?
I urge my clients to think carefully about geography when we’re planning a new site. Are you appealing to a local audience, targeting Sheffield, for example, or are you looking regionally? Is your service or product location-specific, or is your appeal nationwide or even global? Knowing who your visitors are is the first step toward reaching them.
In summary, although we all have free will, a web designer has a lot of control over what people look at on websites. From where key messages are placed to how images are used to elicit the right emotion, none of it is accidental.
If all this information is a bit much, you’re not alone. Web design looks deceptively simple, but the reality is that behind every great website lies a lot of psychology, research and usually, a web designer with years of experience under their belt. Get in touch today to discuss how I can turn your business into an online presence.