The Importance of Website Aesthetics and Visual Appeal

Posted by Murray Sye

on Tue, Jan 14, 2014 @ 01:23 PM

Does your website reflect your brand? Since your website is the hub of your marketing, the look of your website is most likely the first thing your customers and prospects will experience. And, what they see will have a profound effect on what they do and the perception of what they think of your company and your brand.

visually appealing website

According to the Web Marketing Group, our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. As a result, the site aesthetic – not the written content on the screen – is your first chance to reach out and grab your audience.

For your website, a compelling first impression is mandatory to get people to engage with your company. Online attention spans continue to shrink (recent estimates say you have roughly 50 milliseconds to make a first impression), demanding brand managers pay special attention to the look and feel of your website.

Design for the person looking at your screen

What sets a great website design apart? Website design isn't about the company or the designer; it's about the person whom you're trying to attract and "impress". The person on the other side of the screen. This pivotal shift is the key that separates exceptional websites from the other 633 million websites in the world today.

The designer's job is to create a compelling experience for the reader at the other end of the screen. They do this by using aesthetics and design to:

  • Push the meaning and the purpose of the brand
  • Create a tone and express the personality of the brand.

You want your website to create a harmonious tone, not a discordant one. Here are two examples – one from our recent eBook compilation, "54 Most Amazing Inspirational Homepage Designs" and the other voted one of the world's worst websites. I'll let you determine which is which!

Awesome 2



As you can see, these two sites give the reader two very different experiences. The first has a clear visual hierarchy. It uses tools like colour variations and directional arrows to show the audience what's important on the site. Additionally, it provides easily understandable links, readers can click to learn more about the company. On the other hand, you could stare at the second page for a half hour and still not know exactly what you are supposed to do there.

Make sure that your website serves your audience and helps to advance your business goals rather than scare your audience away. For more information on site design and visual cues, read "6 Ways to Increase Landing Page Conversions Using CCD."

Create a brand aesthetic

If you have ever stood in front of an original Monet, you know that a beautiful design can send involuntary tingles down your spine. Unfortunately, if you explore a random sample of sites online, you will find only a small percentage of them are capable of making that kind of connection with their audience.

Really exceptional designers imbue their site design with talent and psychology to elicit an emotion from your visitors. You might not be trying to create awed reverence or spine tingles, but websites should certainly try to produce an emotional response – usually to inspire someone to buy your product or build a relationship with your company.

Because people often make buying decisions based on emotional stimulus, it's important to understand how your website works to stimulate (or inhibit) those kinds of decisions.

Your website should convey the spirit and culture of your company. Are you open and fun, serious and reverent, or friendly and informative? Each of these emotions would require a different imagery, layout and typeface.

Even the colours you use will impact visitors' emotional experience on your site. In a recent "Conversion Centered Design" eBook, produced by HubSpot and Unbounce, CEO and Creative Director, Ollie Gartner takes you through a number of psychological triggers that you can use to understand your own website designs. Gartner explains every colour triggers a specific emotion. For example, orange often creates positive feelings, while red connotes "stop" to many people. Know what emotion you are trying to connect with should determine which shades you pick for your design. Having said that, should you steer away from using "red" in your website?

Take the time to carefully consider how you present your brand online. A well-crafted website can have a profound effect on the success of your marketing in 2014.

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Flickr Photo Credit: by Mr Sebb

Written by Murray Sye

Murray is the CEO and Creative Director with the award-winning
Toronto HubSpot agency partner, WhiteSpace. You can
connect with Murray on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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