Managing First Impressions

By the end of this year there will be over 1 BILLION web sites on-line, all competing for a share of the 6 BILLION daily searches on the Internet.

Once discovered, your web site has very specific entry points where you get to make a good first impression, to convince the visitor to stay on your website and learn more about how you can help them.

There are three major funnels into your site:

  1. Home Page. This is the first page a visitor sees if they clicked through an external link (example: a business directory or search engine result) or typed in your URL from your business card,
  2. Blog Post.  A blog post acts as both a resource and a router, guiding incoming traffic from social media to the post itself plus linking to other pages on your site.
  3. Landing Page(s). If you are running a direct response campaign using Google Adwords, the on-line ads connect directly to a landing page with a specific offer.

When designing a new web site or upgrading an existing one, these three page types have the following five core elements:

1. Validation of Search

After your web page loads, the visitor is looking for confirmation that the link has delivered on its promise. Validation can come in the form of a headline, image, video or all of the above. To achieve this requires the second element, which is:

2. Simplicity

You have very little time to make a good first impression.  Visitors will quickly scan their screen to get oriented and look for direction on what to do next.

Ideally this orientation is done without using the mouse to scroll down the page – all first impression content is “above the fold”.

This requires separation between the page elements, specifically  around titles, paragraphs, graphics, navigation and CTAs (Calls to Action)

Simplicity is integral to the success of your home page, blog posts and landing pages.

“Keep It Simple is important. People are pressed for time and want to make easy decisions.  You must make it easy for them.”  Trevor Hamilton The Story Web Design

3. Ease of Navigation

Site visitors are usually either a) ready to commit to something (buy or sign up) or b) conducting research.  If they are focused on research, your navigation bar should provide them with direction to more content on other pages (specific product descriptions, themed educational material).

Navigation is reinforced by links embedded in the page content to support and expand access to additional information.

For both navigation types, aim to get the visitor to their preferred content in 2-3 mouse clicks.

4. The Call to Action

Every page, whether it is an entry point or a content resource, should have a Call to Action (CTA).

The CTA is your offer.

For visitors who are at different buying stages, you may have a series of escalated CTAs:

  • a newsletter sign-up,
  • a targeted email offer
  • an introductory consultation, leading to
  • a commitment to invest with you.

Each CTA needs to provide motivation to take action – you must offer something of value to secure contact information.

5. Responsive Design

With the range of computing devices now available your website must work easily on desktops, tablets and smartphones while maintaining the above four key elements (validation, simplicity, navigation and call-to-action).

Included in this is choosing a competitive design that allows you to “fit in and stand out” in your field of expertise. This would fall into your initial research at the same time you are researching your keywords list.

Next blog post in this lead generation series: Your Blog’s Job