Did that get your attention? Good, because this week I learned how important it is to get attention and when you successfully gain someone’s attention, you open the door for a meaningful impression.
So who’s responsible for capturing that attention? You. It’s your job to grab attention and keep it. You need to stop customers in their daily life and get them to take an interest in what your offering (service or goods). That when your value proposition comes into its own. But getting and keeping attention is two very different things.
This week marks the start of a new section Attention Basics as part of the CXL Mini Degree in Digital Psychology and persuasion. The human brain has evolved systems and processes over thousands of years, for deciding what’s worth paying attention to, and what’s not (and these processes only take milliseconds).
Understand these processes(and what the brain considers important or not), you can apply them to your website.
Oxytocin & first impressions
Oxytocin, isn’t that the love hormone? Yes, it’s often referred to as the love hormone but in fact its responsible for building trust in relationships. We’ll also see how first impressions are formed and it’s the forms the foundation for a trusting relationship. Oxytocin is the trust molecule according to Neuroeconomist Paul Zak.
Trust is an essential social tool, allowing people to form productive and meaningful relationships so to get people to trust you need to make a good impression. Remember, you only have one chance to make a meaningful first impression.
First impressions are more powerful than actual facts and are formed within a matter of .05 seconds, research suggests. How can this be true you say “more than facts!” So if this is the case then when a visitor sees your website for the first time first impressions are formed(for better or worse).
So when designing your website you need to keep in mind what impression you’re giving and is it a trustworthy one. To help break it down there are four factors that influence first impressions on a website.
- Visual design
- Value proposition
- Compelling images and graphics
- A personal “touch” that exudes trustworthiness
1. Visual design
Visual design or the look and feel of the website is the main driver of first impressions, according to a study by British researchers.
And what they found was out of all the feedback given a massive 94% was about design e.g. complex/busy layout, lack of navigation aids, boring design, use of colour, pop up ads, small print, too much text, corporate look and feel and poor search. So only 6% of the feedback was about the content itself.
So if the homepage was considered undesirable and untrustworthy the rest of the website was written off as the same and not explored further.
For example, this website homepage was analysed and even before looking at the feedback I personally took a dislike to how crowded it was and messy.
This is how not to design your website, instead, you want people to look at your site and feel calm, encouraged and inspired. This is achieved by a well-thought-out layout with plenty of white space, colour tone and nice images(more on that below)
2. Value proposition
This tells your customer who you are, what you do, and why you’re better than your competitors in a sentence or two. Less is more when it comes to your value proposition, it needs to comes across quickly so people can grasp what you’re all about with little effort.
On your homepage, you have the whole area above the fold(scroll line) to communicate your value proposition. This is where you can leverage images, text and buttons for maximum effectiveness.
In this screenshot, visual hierarchy is being used to communicate Williams-Sonomas value proposition.
- Image to grab attention and “Make you want it”
- The eye goes next to the headline “What your offering”
- Then the button or call to action “Get it”
- Fourth place goes to a paragraph of text under the headline;
- The free shipping banner
- And the top navigation last
3. Compelling images and graphics
This is a subset of visual design (number one above) and will help you decide which images to use in order to maximize positive first impressions.
- Use images that complement your product e.g. if its aim at teenagers you wouldn’t use photos of forty-somethings.
- Use photos of smiling people, if that image will be used beside text make sure they are looking to where the text.
- Don’t go overboard, essentials and nothing more.
- Use professional photos, low-quality images scream “don’t trust me”.
4. A personal “touch” that exudes trustworthiness
People want to buy from people, like themselves(preferably). So use:
- Use simple, normal language(no jargon)
- No cheesy stock photos
- Photos of real-looking people(no airbrushed supermodels please!)
Internal vs external factors
You can use external and internal factors to gain attention, external factors are objective and less likely to change (they are what they are), whereas internal factors are subjective and subject to change of time (like changing fashion trends) e.g. your dream car will be different at 13 than 35.
- Changes in Intensity
- Habits & Attitudes
- Motives & Organic States
- Past experiences
So you need to be mindful of distracting vs grabbing attention e.g. a brightly coloured, flashing graphic on your homepage is distracting whereas a value proposition in a contrasting colour to the rest of the homepage draws attention to your offer.
So there you have it, how to maximise grabbing attention versus simply distracting people. Distracted people will get distracted by something else and move on but when you’ve gotten their attention they engage with you and what you’re offering. But it’s not over there, once you have attention then you need to keep it, so that means a well laid out clear to understand site with appropriate images to support your offer(service or product).
Remember it’s your job to grab site visitors’ attention and keep it. When something fails to grab attention it’s not even a blip on the radar.