Making Good First Impressions
Popular wisdom has long maintained that first impressions are very important. For many if not most corporations, that first impression to the outside world is made by its website. As a website’s primary impression-producing assets are its content and its organization, it’s fair to say that the content and organization of the website are very important for creating a good first impression with viewers. A good first impression along with good organization and writing makes viewer engagement with the website much more likely.
Communicating with Words
Think about the objectives you have for your website. If your website is intended to promote your business, you should break it up into discrete pages that might be attractive to different groups of visitors. Some visitors are first-timers. They might want to know about the history of the business, the owners, and the people who they might be in contact with if they call. Most visitors also want to hear about your products and/or services, so one or more pages devoted to that would be appropriate. Other visitors are looking for resources, contact information, reasons to buy from you.
All the information you post to your website should be well organized and should flow easily from one sentence to the next. Think about the website from the perspective of the typical visitors you expect. Certainly people want to read about your products and services. They may also want to know why you do what you do, and how you do it. Think about how you might work these important aspects of your business into your website.
You may find that you don’t have the time to do great writing from the get-go. If that’s the case, try to at least get the structure right from the beginning. Then, over time, go back and improve the content bit by bit until it is an accurate reflection of who you are. If you take pride in your business, that pride should show through in your website, through its content.
Many websites today contain a lot of images. Often, those same websites are light on content. The problem with image-heavy websites is that images do not engage the viewer. They might make a nice impression, but they don’t hold the viewer and draw them in. If a website is overly dependent on images, there is less reason for a first-time visitor to explore, or even return for more information, tips, announcements, engagement with a blog, etc.
While we’re on the topic of images, there are some which should be avoided under any circumstance. A good example is images that are automatically changing in front of the viewers eyes. If you’ve seen those websites, you’ve probably noticed that the movement of the images is very distracting. It’s the same on sites that load up with advertisements. Other bad images would be employee pictures that look like mug shots, or those that are blurry, poorly cropped, too small or too large. A good approach is to look at what others have done… see what you like, and use those to guide your choice of images.
If your objective is to get the site viewer to buy something, learn about something, or inquire about something, then make sure your site’s organization, writing, and images support that objective.