In less than half a second, your website can form a lasting impression to a visitor. They can choose to remain on your site or click that big “Back” button on their web browser. In today’s blog, I would like to share with you two of the most important things that visitors want to know about a site when they first arrive and a few tips on how to answer those questions quickly.
“Where Am I?”
The first question a visitor asks is fairly simple and often may seem a bit “dumb”. The first question is “Where Am I?” You as a web master should make it easy for visitors to see whose site they are on and how to maneuver around the site.
First, it is always a good rule of thumb to include your organization’s name and logo at the top of the page, on every page in your site. It will be the first thing that visitors will see, so they know whose site they are on. From a marketing standpoint, it embeds your name and logo into their brain so that they will remember who you are. From a design standpoint, it will keep your site uniform, so visitors know that they haven’t left your site.
As a rule of thumb, I recommend that you do not use Flash or a splash page. These kind of features are neat and impressive, if done correctly, but can slow down the load time of a website. Also, try to keep any logo images small enough so it does not slow those visitors that maybe on a dial-up connection. You have to remember that first impressions happen very quickly, so a fast load time is crucial!
Secondly, you’ll want your links to other pages on your site to be near the top of the page. These links should be uniform across the site so that each portion of your site can be reached by one click of the mouse button.
If you have several pages on your site, you may consider using two menus to navigate. The first should point to the main areas of you site and appear on every page. The second can appear when accessing the main area of the site to show other pages within that same area. If you visit the OurChurch.Com page (http://www.ourchurch.com), you’ll notice that when you click on certain menu items, such as “Web Hosting Services”, “Custom web Design”, and “Website Marketing”, another menu appears below that menu item. Sub-menus are very helpful and, when done correctly, can impress visitors enough to stay on the site to check out the rest of it.
These two things can easily answer the question, “Where Am I?”
“What Does This Site Do?”
This question is another that may seem obvious, but several sites tend not to answer it. Within this question may hide other questions, such as “What does this organization offer?” or “Where is the information I was looking for?” Here are a couple of different ways to answer.
Other than your company name and logo, you might include a short slogan or tag line that explains what type of service, product, or ministry your organization offers. This can quickly tell visitors that they are on the right track to answer any questions they have. This slogan can change from page to page depending on what that portion of your site is about. For example, OurChurch.com has several areas of service. Our main areas are web hosting, web marketing, online advertising, and (most importantly) web design. If you visited our main web hosting page (http://www.ourchurch.com/hosting), you will notice a graphic at the top of the page that says, “Website Hosting from OurChurch.Com”. Each link you click on within the “Web Hosting Services” menu will have the same slogan at the top of their page. If you visit the main web design page (http://www.ourchurch.com/design), each page will say “Custom Web Design from OurChurch.Com”. These tell the visitor in that they are in the right department.
A great addition to the content of your site is the use of header codes (,, etc.) Adding these will separate your content into smaller sections so the visitor can quickly find what he/she was looking for. Nowadays, people want information as fast as they can think of it. If they see a page full of text, they will likely tell themselves that they do not have the time to read through everything. Instead, separate your content by using headers that explain certain subjects within your content. You can even bold certain phrases or colorize your text to highlight the main points on your page: anything to emphasize your message and make things easy to find!
You need to remember that first impressions happen only once and they happen fast. Try to apply some of these principles to ensure that your first impression will be a good one.