How important is good web design?

Quality web design is a fundamental element to a successful website recipe, now more so than ever…

A 2004 study published by ResearchGate on website ‘trust and mistrust’ hinted at the effects visual design elements of a website have on visitors, with 94% of initial website rejections being attributed to poor design elements such as complex busy layout, boring design, small text, too much text, too many adverts, bad choice of colour… etc. etc.

Over a decade down the track, and the Internet has matured dramatically. A staple of everyday life, we now do our shopping, schooling, banking, pay our bills and search for love… all online.

However, as the Internet has matured, so too has its users. In a world where we have become accustomed to being able to find just about anything we need at the click of a button, Internet users now EXPECT to be able to find absolutely everything… at the click of a button.

Where once ‘being online’ may have given you an advantage, now, everything and everyone is online, and simple existing online is not enough. Without knowing how to market your website to stand out, you quickly become just another lost domain name tangled deep within the ever-growing World Wide Web.

Quality web design is a key feature of successful marketing.

Here’s the deal; unless you are an enormously successful world-renowned company who’s reputation almost exceeds the need for marketing, the majority of people who visit your website aren’t typing in your domain name. They are finding you via search engines results of specific keywords or subjects – simple put, we Google everything.

As ResearchGate’s ‘Trust and Mistrust’ study suggests, whilst quality of content, voice, source and tone play a major role in gaining the ongoing trust of visitors, visual design elements are the almost exclusive factor for initial rejection – that is, not taking the time to delve further in to the website, clicking back or exiting the website straight away – judging by the way it looks.

Basically, we’re all spoiled. With the Internet making so many options easily available to increasingly savvy users, if you’re website doesn’t visually appeal to a visitor immediately, they will more than likely click back and continue their search for something more alluring.

Think of a website as the modern day ‘packaging’ of the good or service it represents…

Just as marketing guru Louis Cheskin proved pre-digital-era, packaging is vital to the perception of the product within. Cheskin’s renowned marketing research company came up with the theory that consumers don’t make a distinction between a product and the packaging it comes in. A theory that was proven by a number of now famous marketing experiments:

  • Adding 15% more yellow to a can of 7-Up made consumers perceive a more ‘lemony’ flavor than lime… though the drink was unchanged.
  • In the 1940’s, colouring margarine yellow instead of white, and packaging it the same way as butter caused a lack of distinction between the two, initiating margarine’s success.
  • Adding a sprig of parsley between the ‘r’ and ‘m’ on the Hormel logo made customers perceive the products as ‘more fresh’.

… the cyber-highways of the Internet represent the isles of your local Supermarket, and the web design of your company’s homepage is the packaging of your business. Thus, your business is judged on the initial visual appeal of its web design, its packaging.

So, how important is good web design? I’d say very important. Crucial. Pivotal. Vital.

As ResearchGate’s study indicates, good content (product) will always be necessary for ongoing success, however, in the age of the ‘Googler,’ without initially visually appealing web design (packaging), your website may never get the chance to prove its worth.

All about presentation.