Love at first (web)site

We've all had that feeling.

Somebody you've never seen before walks into a room or passes you on the street, and you can’t help but instantly falling madly in love with them.

Okay maybe it's not true love, but for one reason or another, the qualities that individual possesses draw you in deeper and compel you to want to get to know them better. It’s probably a combination of a lot of things: posture, scent, smile, the sound of their voice, their unique style, I could go on.

A similar experience happens each time we visit a website. In a fraction of a second, our mind judges different attributes on a page to determine if it's "just another website", or time to fall in love.

Here at Pronto, we have fallen into a habit of sharing those "love at first view" websites with each other and we recently got together to talk about what really draws us to certain websites. From this meeting, we developed a list of five practices that could help your website really draw in your viewers and help them to form an instant attraction.

1. Optimize your website for fast load times

It's hard to fall in love with a website you can’t see. Slow loading pages frustrate your visitors, risking the chance for them pressing the back button and searching for another site.

Performance optimization is an art in and of itself. It involves image optimization, code and script management, caching, and the use of a CDN to name a few. Here at Pronto we use WebPagetest to grade each and every website we create. We utilize the rankings in order to improve our creation process.

webpage load time

2. Eliminate popups or error messages on your home page

Maybe you have a special announcement, or are trying to capture more email addresses, but be careful about throwing popups at your visitors, especially before they know or trust you. As a first impression, popups can be annoying, and give the visitor the impression that your website is more about capturing leads and making money than connecting with its audience. If you want to experiment with popups, try another method of getting the message out such as an article on your blog or a splashy note on your resources center.

Error messages and unnecessary downloads should be completely eliminated. Make sure to test your website in different browsers, operating systems and devices to make sure that cool Silverlight plugin you used for your banner doesn't throw an error for everybody who doesn't have it installed on their computer.

website error message

3. Make use of good design principles

There are books and professions devoted to this, but here are the top elements that help make a page look great:

  • Color - A tasteful color palette can do wonders for the design of your home page. Color Scheme Designer is a great tool that helps suggest palettes based on a provided color. Adobe Kuler and COLOURlovers are also great resources and inspirations for color.
  • Imagery - Modern websites are becoming more illustrative and less text heavy. Images are replacing blocks of text. This is done in the form of photography, icons and illustrations. For stock photography, we recommend premium services like Stocksy or Offset to get that high quality, signature photo your visitors will fall in love with.
  • Proportion - Sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on why a design looks good or bad. Part of this may be because of the proportions being used. The Golden Ratio, based on the Fibonacci sequence, is a popular design theory used to place elements on a page. This article on Creative Bloq explains how these principles are used across nature, architecture and web design.
  • Typography - Great typography can help strengthen your brand and add some personality to your page. Google Fonts has a huge collection of free fonts for you to use on the web and offline. What's even better is that these fonts are optimized for the Web, meaning they will be readable on almost every device and browser.

4. Design and speak to your audience

You don't need everybody to fall in love with your website. What’s important is designing with your target audience in mind. For example, are they more progressive, or conservative? Are they in a hurry (fixing an emergency or on the go), or casually browsing? Knowing the answers to these types of questions will help you design a website and experience catered directly to the visitors you care about the most.

5. Look great on all devices

Too many first time visitors are viewing your site on their mobile devices - you can't ignore mobile anymore. It's critical that you have a Web page that displays just as pretty on smartphones and tablets as it does on a desktop.

The chart below shows how mobile traffic that we've monitored across all Pronto sites for the past two years. Smartphone and tablet users have become an increasingly large portion of the overall traffic that your website receives. Stop ignoring them and build a website that is mobile-friendly!

mobile web traffic

As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a great first impression. Spending some extra time and care on your homepage will increase the chances of “love at first site”, ultimately resulting in more leads and conversions.

Let the experts at Pronto build you a website you, and your visitors will fall in love!

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