With the advent of do-it-yourself website tools, there has been a rapid increase in the number of websites live on the Internet today.  The tradeoff is that many of these websites look hacked together and lack the level of quality a design professional would bring to the process.  Many companies justify this tradeoff due to the perceived lower cost of implementation.  Unfortunately, many businesses fail to realize that these ramshackle website solutions do great damage to themselves when it comes to a web visitor’s perception and willingness to trust the website and the company as a whole.  By foregoing great aesthetics, these businesses miss out on an opportunity to build trust and convey ideas and emotions. Ultimately, they make a bad first impression that has a lasting impact.  Here’s how.

Great Aesthetics Build Trust

Lack of trust is one of the biggest barriers to eCommerce, online relationships, and interactions. It is one reason why creating an amazing brand name is so important. 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 [13]. 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 [13].”

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 [12].

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 website is trustworthy and professional within the first few seconds someone sees your website.  This important task is executed by making sure your website has great aesthetics.

Great Aesthetics Convey Ideas and Emotions

apple aesthetics

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 website reflects this visually with its clean white layout with gray and black accents.

great aesthetics

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.

fortune 500 aesthetics

A common aesthetic trend can be seen in Fortune 500 logos as well.  Most of them rely on a predominantly blue color scheme due to the 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 website 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 Aesthetics 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

Feature photo courtesy of Paul Bica.