Web design. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
And it’s true.
Go on a date with that guy who might not quite look your type.
Get to know the homeless man you see on the street who makes you uncomfortable.
And when it comes to websites, the inside–the content–surely matters. If you don’t have helpful information, your site is basically worthless (check out our article on what content is important here).
But here’s a groundbreaking idea for you.
Looks matter, too.
Put simply, the design of your site determines whether or not your audience–your potential clients/customers–connects with you.
And if they don’t connect with your site, your potential buyers will move on until they find a site that they do connect with.
It hurts, but the uglier and more outdated your site, the less time people spend on it.
Let’s take a look at the science behind this, first.
Recently, a number of studies about attractiveness have shown surprising results: people find average beautiful.
Now, before you start worrying about your significant other’s looks and wondering if you’re actually being blinded by love, let me explain why.
Your brain is wired to make things efficient for itself. When your brain sees something it’s used to seeing–say, your own face in the mirror–it doesn’t have to process anything new.
On the other hand, whenever your brain sees something new or out-of-the-ordinary, it has to process the newness. That’s why you don’t think twice driving around your city, but when you drive around a new city, your brain works overtime taking in all the new surroundings and information you’re giving it.
So the more average someone looks, the more beautiful we think they are. They’re easy to process and not hard on our eyes or our brain. But throw in an asymmetrical face or someone quite larger or thinner than what you’re used to, and you’ll find yourself staring and finding it unattractive.
Or think of that person with the lopsided, funny-looking face. After spending enough time with them, your brain adjusts, and you’ll likely find them more attractive than you did at first.
Now, let’s apply this principle to websites.
There are two types of ugly when it comes to websites:
- Outdated Ugly: when your site is living in 2005. This is your friend with the lopsided face. Signs that your site is Outdated Ugly include blinking animations, bright or clashing colors, weird fonts, and too much information. (While I think I’m speaking for everyone when I say “I love Craigslist,” this is a prime example of “Outdated Ugly”.)
- Try-Hard Ugly: when your designer is trying too hard to live in the future. This is your friend who cakes on her makeup, or the guy who flexes a little too obviously for pictures. Signs that your site is Try-Hard Ugly include too much animation, confusing navigation, and a high bounce rate. (Sorry to this dental site.)
In other words, make sure your audience doesn’t feel any of the following while on your site:
- Confusion (not knowing what to click)
- Headache (too many colors)
- The need to blink rapidly (too much animation)
- Frustration (when they can’t find something easily)
Fix these things and you’ll be just average. That’s a compliment.