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Recently, I was asked by one of our project managers to take an online survey. The subject: evaluate a new client’s current site in terms of design and functionality, and then compare it to a few of their competitors.
The survey asked me to browse the site in question for approximately five minutes, and then come back to answer some questions about it. I had never seen these sites before, so everything was new to me. When I came back to the survey, the first question was:
With regard to the *insert name here* web site, what unique word would you use to describe this site (i.e. “friendly”, “professional”, etc.)?
That really got me thinking about a user’s first impression of a Web site. We’ve all done it…typed in that Web site address, the site comes up, and…what? What unique word pops into your head first?
- “Wow” (good)
- “Wow” (bad)
What’s your Web site’s unique “word”? That’s probably an unfair question to ask you, since you’ve seen it, you helped design it, and, let’s be honest, you may not want to criticize your own work. So ask a family member or friend. Send out a survey to your customers (Survey Monkey is a great survey service, and it’s free). Customers will usually be straightforward and honest (unless you’re offering them a percentage discount for every positive response).
First impressions of a Web site are more important than you might think. Our Search Engine Marketing team monitors all sorts of statistics about Web site visitors. One of those stats that I’m most interested in is called “bounce rate”, which is defined by Wikipedia as “…a term…(that) represents the percentage of initial visitors to a site who ‘bounce’ away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site.” If your homepage has a high bounce rate (meaning, more people leave immediately than those who stick around), it could be due to that “word”.
You’ve heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. You could apply that thought to a Web site, but everyone judges a site immediately. A user brings up your site, says “Ouch”, then hits the “back” button to get to their search results, and picks the next site. There are probably hundreds of Web sites out there that do what you do.
Does your site’s “word” make a user run away to those competitors? You know what they say: “You only get one chance to make a good first impression”. The great thing about the Web is, if your site isn’t making a good first impression, a redesign can start a whole new string of first impressions. A redesign can help you start from scratch and do things right. This time, you can grab a user’s interest and get their business.
What is your Web site’s unique “word”?