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5 rules for making your pitch.

By Susan Price
February 20, 2006

Visitors to your website know how to use Google and Yahoo. They're in control. Most will give your site only few beats to make its case, so you’ve got to make the most of that critical first impression. Here's how.

1. It must technically work.

That means it can't be broken, or designed to prevent users in any way from seeing its critical parts. And it had better do it quickly, and not be too slow to download.

“They need some positive reinforcement that they arrived at the right place. Ideally, the link they clicked to get here should match the page title exactly.”

2. It must convey a clear sense of place.

The user entered your URL or clicked your link in a search results listing, and they need some positive reinforcement that they arrived at the right place. Ideally, the link they clicked to get here should match the page title exactly.

3. It must not encourage users to leave at once.

Ugly sites do this, as do sites with amateurish designs, technical gimmicks, or misspellings. Graphics or copy that isn't targeted to your audience will also chase visitors away. And don't give external links (banner ads or partners) more prominence than links to your own content.

4. It must lay out the user’s options clearly.

Tell and show users what they can do on the site. That means not playing games with navigation, or forcing users to watch a cool intro movie. State clearly what you do, sell, offer. If there are many options, organize them so well that users can quickly scan through them and find what they came for.

5. It must reflect well on you.

This first page represents you in the style of graphics, and the tone of the text — the branding. Your online brand is your physical appearance, your tone of voice, your smile and what you say and do — it's all you've got to work with. Make sure that impression is what you want users to think about you.


Susan Price is an industry expert in user-centered website design. Yes, she's available for speaking and consulting engagements.

MediaRich works through these issues and much more on every site design, even every banner ad. Let us know if we can help you maximize your first impression. Contact us for a free evaluation of your own home page.

 

tel: 210.369.4074 fax: (toll-free) 866.431.3805 eMail: info@mediarich.net