In today’s crowded marketplace, the attractiveness of your website is more important than ever before. Having visited truly phenomenal websites, computer savvy potential customers have high expectations.
According to the experts at Measuring Usability, the average Internet user forms a lasting impression of a website within 50 milliseconds, or 1/5 of the time it takes to blink your eyes! The best web design firms know how to pack a punch, grabbing potential customers in the first click.
Components of Visual Appeal
The Measuring Usability piece identified five major components to visual appeal. Aesthetic refers to the overall attractiveness of the website. Symmetry is the visual balance. Pleasantness refers to the color scheme. Organization is the navigational structure. Cleanliness describes how streamlined a website is, free from clutter or visual noise. Websites that rank highly on the five components tend to be classified by users as visually appealing.
J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D.
In the 1989 film, Dead Poets Society, maverick English teacher John Keating turns a conservative 1950s boys’ school upside down. In one of the most riveting scenes, Keating asks the boys to read an essay titled “Understanding Poetry,” by J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D., which explains how the greatness of a poem is measured on a graph based on its importance and perfection. He then instructs the boys to rip the essay out of their textbooks.
Keating explains that art and literature are what make life worth living, and cannot be rated as if they were on American Bandstand. He goes on to explain that each person must learn to trust his own instincts and come to his own conclusions, rather than relying on expert opinions and graphs to tell him whether something is good.
The Pritchard Effect
While the data on visual appeal is interesting and potentially useful, it reads much like J. Evans Pritchard,
Ph.D.’s assessment of what makes poetry great. Charts and graphs and user surveys can only get you so far when designing a website. Ultimately, the question of beauty is subjective and cannot easily be pinned down.
While anyone can work their way through a list of important features, not everyone has the expertise to build a truly beautiful website. The best web design firms are aware of the research but are not slaves to it. They are able to synthesize the data, incorporate the client’s vision and create a truly unique site that leaves customers clamoring for more.