Photo courtesy of Paul Bica.
With the advent of do-it-yourself web site tools, there has been a rapid increase in the number of web sites live on the Internet today. The trade off is that many of these web sites look hacked together and lack the level of quality a design professional would bring to the process. Many companies justify this trade off due to the perceived lower cost of implementation. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to realize that these hacked together web site solutions do great damage to themselves when it comes to a web visitor’s perception and willingness to trust the web site and the company as a whole. By foregoing great aesthetics, these businesses miss out on an opportunity to build trust, convey ideas and emotions that connect with their audience, and make a bad first impression that has lasting impact. Here’s how.
Great Aesthetics Build Trust
Lack of trust is one of the biggest barriers to eCommerce, online relationships, and interactions. Research has found many details about how aesthetics affect users.
“Singh and Dalaj (1999) found that the home page creates an initial impression not only of the company’s Web site but also the company itself . First impressions are critical in establishing on-line relationships.”
“Karvoven (1999) found that design quality was among the features that enhanced the feeling of trust .”
Researchers have captured comments such as: “If a Web site strikes me as beautiful, I will gladly give away my credit card number”; and “If it looks pleasant, I just trust it.” Karvoven’s international research (2000) with Swedish users found that users often made intuitive and on-the-spot decisions to trust a service provider when shopping online .
Karvonen and Parkkinen (2001) suggest that using high-quality, well-chosen photographs generate consumer confidence.
Lightner (2003) found that overuse of graphics damages perceptions of professionalism.
Wang & Emurian (2005) found that simplicity and consistency facilitate accessibility and navigation and these are characteristics of a trustworthy site.
Flanagin & Metzger (2007) found that offering information and news relevant to advertised products may enhance perceptions of credibility.
In today’s crowded market, it is more important than ever to establish that your web site is trustworthy and professional within the first few seconds someone sees your web site. This important task is executed by making sure your site has great aesthetics.
Great Aesthetics Convey Ideas and Emotions
With trust as your foundation in great aesthetics, you can build emotions on top of it to sell your products and services more effectively. Apple products are a great example of applying great aesthetics. Their products are cool, young, and hip. The Apple web site reflects this visually with its clean white layout with gray and black accents. St. Louis based videographer, Steve Behrends, has helped numerous corporations put on a more human friendly face by helping them create high quality videos. By incorporating great video into the website, you are better able to communicate complex emotional messages and build trust at a faster rate.
Another interesting example is BP Oil who chooses green, white, and yellow which ties to pastoral, clean, sunny, and happy despite their “dirty” product. Their use of aesthetics helps them portray that “clean” image they desire the public to see.
A common aeshtetic trend can be seen in Fortune 500 logos as well. Most of them rely on a predominantly blue color scheme due to its calming and relaxing associations most Western audiences have with it.
Great Aesthetics Make a First Impression
A 2006 study conducted by Lindgaard, “found that Web site impressions were reliably formed within 50 seconds, were reliably consistent between people, and were held consistent over time.”
“…impressions were made in a short exposure time (less than a minute/page), it is likely that participants were making aesthetic judgments with minimal information and little conscious reflection or thought.”
Again, aesthetics can really make or break your site. Make it a priority to have a great image so that you do not have problems with users trusting your web site and company when it comes to their decision to purchase from you. At the same time, don’t be like a fancy restaurant that has no customer service. You need to look great and follow through on your customer’s whole experience with your company.
Aesthetics, Shire.net, http://www.shire.net/learnwebdesign/aesthetics.htm
Chen, Jennifer, “The Impact of Aeshtetics on Attitudes Towards Web Sites”, 2009 Jul, http://www.usability.gov/articles/062009news.html
Furman, Susanne, Ph.D., “Building Trust”, Usability.gov http://www.usability.gov/articles/092009news.html
Webcredible, Website aesthetics – what has it got to do with usability? http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/web-usability/aesthetics-usability.shtml
“What Works for Fortune 500: blue”, 2008 Aug 22, http://www.brandflakesforbreakfast.com/2008/08/what-works-for-fortune-500-blue.html