You only have one chance to capture someone’s attention on the web. And that one chance is a fleeting and extremely precious thing. Poor design - okay, an unattractive, inhospitable page, to be blunt - is virtually a guarantee that your prospective viewer will be viewing someone else’s page as fast as they can hit the back button.
This is especially true in search, as the target site won’t necessarily be defined and there won’t be any particular design expectation. But even when the person knows where he or she is headed, that first moment creates an impression that you only have a chance to make once. So don’t waste it. Because with it you’ll be wasting a lot more. The money you spent developing the site. The money you could be making from that one visitor. The money you could be making from referrals to their friends. The money that VC firm has lying around with your name on it. Okay, maybe the last one is a stretch, but it helps to illustrate the point.
You want to make a visceral, emotional and positive connection, and your method of achieving that goal lies in design.
Take the time to think through not only the functionality of the site, but the myriad ways in which you can marry that functionality to the right side of the brain, and create a complete and synergistic visual experience. It’s amazing how much work goes in to creating a visually unattractive or confusing page design, but in reality it doesn’t need to take any longer to bring something to life that’s got the capacity to make someone want to look, to stay focused on what you have to offer.
Try this experiment yourself: Google something and click on the various sites that come up. Note your first impressions as you open the pages. You’ll find yourself making judgments immediately about everything from the quality of what the site offers to a gut feeling of whether you’d want to do business with them.
Emotion dictated by design plays an incredible role in our actions on line, and if that sought-for visceral reaction is a positive one, that one chance at a positive impression might just get you another loyal fan.