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Does design matter?

We live in a visual society.

No surprise there—our magazines are photoshopped, our cars are ultra-stylized, even our staplers are hyper-designed. We expect things to look good.

But there’s another, equally critical piece to the puzzle that helps determine the success of a product: the feel. That’s the stuff that makes you buy the car after the test drive or keep the stapler. Do you like the position of the speedometer? Does your hand grip the stapler naturally? How comfortable, logical, and intuitive things are is a huge part of what makes products successful. Websites included.

Getting your audience to your website is one thing. Keeping them there is the big thing.
After you’ve done the work to get your audience to your website—SEO and advertising and long-winded tradeshow conversations—good design is what’s going to keep them there. And the longer they’re on your site, the more they’ll learn about your brand, the more of an emotional investment they’re making in your organization, and the more likely they are to buy whatever it is you’re selling. But rest easy: good doesn’t have to mean complex or expensive. Often solutions as simple as color, layout, text block size, and navigation can boost user satisfaction and click-through rates.

Good design actually builds consumer trust. In the study Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites, researchers looked at the impact of design on trust—or mistrust—of health websites compared to the impact of quality of content. The study’s 15 participants were asked to search online for health information that was personally relevant, and were then asked to discuss their first impressions of the websites they visited. Of all the factors that were mentioned for rejecting or mistrusting a website, 94 percent were design related compared to only 6 percent that were content related.

“We’ve been meaning to update our website…”
Meanwhile countless visitors are coming to your site and developing impressions of your brand based on an outdated or poorly designed website. The harsh reality is that your website is your brand ambassador and your company will be judged by it. So if your site doesn’t look pleasing or feel intuitive, your visitors aren’t likely to stick around for long.

The short list of no-no’s.
In the make-or-break world of web design, here are some breakers to avoid:

  • Poor organization
  • Lack of navigation aids
  • Tacky stock imagery
  • Slow loading speeds
  • Poor color choices
  • Too much copy
  • Exclamation points!
  • Busy or complex layout
  • Pop ups
  • Small text

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