When it comes to web design, the devil is very much in the detail. Paying attention to the smaller elements of your layout and making sure that you don’t overlook graphics that don’t quite line up or that don’t fit right on certain screen sizes will make all the difference when it comes to ensuring your site is successful. Perhaps you don’t notice tiny mistakes consciously when you’re surfing the web, but even at a glance they will unconsciously undermine the quality of the site.
Likewise, there are any number of things that can impact on your website’s success that simply don’t seem like they should. There are forces at work that influence your successful web design, and many of them are things you’d never suspect. Read on to see just how petty things can get and why you really need to pay attention…
Your URL of course has a big impact on your website’s success. Obviously the name you choose for your site will impact on memorability, on the associations people make, and on how easy it is for someone to type your address in and go there.
But what also has an impact are the more precise details of your site’s name. Even down to the choice of letters. If you have a website that begins with the letter ‘A’ for instance, then you’ll find that it’s more successful than one beginning with the letter ‘Z’ and that it creates different feelings as well.
One reason for the success of ‘A’ is simply that your site will always be listed first whenever it is in alphabetical order with other sites. If you submit your link to a directory this can often have a big impact on how many visitors you get from there.
At the same time, because As are so often listed first, we generally will associate things beginning with A as being more important than those beginning with Z. It’s a subtle and unconscious mechanism, but it again plays a role.
Finally, the very sounds in your site name might impact on its success due to something called ‘synaesthesia’ – our ability to link different modalities so that sounds become associated with certain colours, moods and temperatures. Does your site sound upbeat and cool (Fisk)? Or flat and boring (Drurdle)?
The Direction Your Images Face
Let’s say you’re using a portrait picture of someone in your article and you’re thinking about where to put it. Should the person in the picture be facing left or right? You wouldn’t think that it could possible make any difference, but in fact it does: having your images face inwards towards the text you want your visitors to read will actually help to draw their eyes in towards the centre where they should be focussed – the opposite can cause them to drift off and lose attention. If your picture is on the left, then it should face right and vice versa.
The Colour of Buttons
If you have a ‘buy now’ button, or any other kind of link that you want people to press, then make sure that you colour it red. Again, it might surprise you to think that this makes any difference, but studies have shown that people are more likely to click a red button because it conveys a sense of urgency (our heartrate actually increases when we look at the colour red). This works with charity boxes too – research shows that people put more money in if that box is red regardless of the nature of the charity being advertised.
Font can also make a huge difference to the look of your site, as well as to the impact that it has one people. One of the most surprising effects here being to alter the perceived authority of the site – if you write your content in Comic Sans then you’ll find that people actually rate it as less accurate than the same text written in something a little more professional.
As you can see then a myriad of tiny things can all add up to a more or less successful website. So if your site is currently struggling, maybe try thinking a little more outside the box?
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