A store window
The store window was designed to stop you in your tracks, create a good impression and pique your interest enough to come into the store. Once inside, the store is laid out in a fashion that allows you to find what you are looking for. Looking for men’s jeans? Finding the men’s section should only take a minute or two. Same with women’s or kids clothes. No matter the needs of the shopper, the path is quick, easy and clear.
A Web site should do the exact same thing, by assigning “visual value” to the elements that will bring users into the “store” and then delivering the “goods” in a matter of a click or two. One of the best examples of assigning visual value with a place Web site is http://www.ohiomeansbusiness.com. Multiple user groups are given immediate access to the information they are seeking.
Another way to look at the home page is to relate it to meeting someone for the first time. You look a stranger in the eye, greet her with a handshake and exchange a polite hello. And then you walk away with an impression of that person – good, bad or indifferent. Fair or unfair. In just a second or two, you have an impression that will last.
Same with a Web site. The first impression will last with the user. The only difference is, there won’t be a second meeting if the impression is negative.
The fastest way to create a negative impression is to burden a user with too much to read. Visitors to a site don’t have time – or the desire – to read more than a few words until they find exactly what they are looking for. So the most important aspect of “visual value” is the word “visual.” Seeing is always believing, but not more so that online.
The Web is 100 percent visual. With very few exceptions, any other elements – video or audio – will only prevent a user from finding the information he is looking for.
If a picture is not only worth 1,000 words, it’s better than 50 words. Or 25. Or 15.
Images are also the best way to make a good first impression with a user – and make it in the fastest way possible. So when you find the four or five things that represent the information visitors to your Web site are most likely interested in, the best way to present that information is visually.
No matter the reason for the visit, the compelling image will catch you attention, and then a clear menu of options provides a path to what you are looking for.
The path would not have been as quick, though, if that image would have been a slow-loading video or audio. Only a picture will catch a person’s immediate attention. And failure to do so will lead to a lost “customer.”
The deeper one goes into a Web site, the more likely that visitor is to take time to read a paragraph or two. People don’t read Web sites. They look for information. Until, of course, they find that information. And then they will read – but not before.
In the next post on visual value, we will discuss using your Web site to receive immediate feedback on your marketing and communications program as well as the three keys for your home page.
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