Forget text–here’s why a great website design is worth a thousand words.



How long do you have to make a good impression online? According to researchers, the amount of time could be as little as 50 milliseconds. Your website design has to capture attention, and capture it fast to avoid losing out on customers and clients.

Here are the six big design flaws to avoid, so you can keep eyes on your website for more than 50 milliseconds:

Know where the eye wanders

What is your audience looking at when it first sets eyes on your page? Eye tracking studies have been performed for years, and the same pattern has been found multiple times. According to eye tracking research by the Nielsen Norman Group, people generally tend to view websites in an “F” pattern. This “F” pattern is true across articles, e-commerce sites, and even Web searches.

Therefore, the location of your most essential information is important, including links and call-to-action statements. Placing important information at the top of your website or in the upper lefthand corner means your audience is more likely to see and digest it quickly.

Choose the right images

The images you choose will have a huge influence on how viewers see and respond to your site. Positive images evoke a similarly positive feeling for your audience, so you might want to include some smiling faces. In fact, research by Temple University found inspiration-related design elements had the biggest impact on first-impression formation on travel and tourism websites.

Sunny optimism is not only attractive but also more likely to leave a lasting impression on your target audience. According to research, positive expectations can actually positively affect user impressions. Ignoring upbeat images isn’t an option. If your site paints a vividly upbeat portrait of your company, users will form a first impression built to last.

Design for everyone

There are plenty of audience segments you need to consider when designing, yet many companies and Web developers are leaving potential customers on the table. People living with disabilities are a huge audience, and you should build your site to be as inclusive as possible.

Consider using Alt tags, so a screen reader can pick up the images on your site. Create subtitles and transcripts for your videos, describe your links in greater detail, and provide larger clickable areas for those with limited mobility. Web design should be inclusive, not exclusive, because your site or company should want to make room for everyone.

Mind your color wheel

Speaking of disabilities, did you know approximately 0.5 percent of women and 8 percent of men have some form of color blindness? Unfortunately, few designers spend much time considering color blindness when putting together the color wheel on websites. Red-green color blindness is the most common form, yet most sites include red prominently as call-to-action items and error messages.

It can be hard for those living with red-green color blindness to, for example, notice an error made when filling out a form if the red color recedes into the background. Use color cues in combination with other images and graphical symbols when trying to grab the attention of users.

Use nonverbals to spur call-to-actions

As humans, we have a natural tendency to follow the gaze of others. Which is probably why a study called “Eye Gaze Cannot Be Ignored” found we tend to even follow the gaze in still images. For Web design, this is a powerful tool that some designers are missing. The nonverbal behavior in the images you select can influence the actual behavior of your site’s visitors.

This means you might want the image of your company mascot to stare directly at the call-to-action item or at newsletter signup on your page. Visitors will be more likely to pay attention to what the image is looking at by following eyelines.

Know your target audience

One of the biggest design flaws is ignoring your target audience. Are you targeting investment bankers, AARP members, or tech-obsessed Millennials? The audience should dictate many of the design elements, from images to font size. Pay attention to what your competition is doing, and make sure you’re on-trend instead of trailing behind the pack.

You should also know from where your target audience is coming. Smartphones and tablets have changed the game, meaning mobile optimization is more important than ever before.A study by Latitude found 61 percent of consumers feel more positive about a brand or company if they have a good mobile experience. Ignoring the new mobile reality is a huge design flaw, no matter what your target audience.

Understanding these common design flaws can help you build a better user experience and convert more visitors into loyal customers.

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