When you think about a user's experience for websites, most designers and developers will automatically start talking about clean code and accessibility. This is a very good aspect of a user's experience to think about and is in fact very important. You must also think about many other aspects of the user's experience, as it is much more then just clean code and accessibility.
From the moment you start typing in that cool new website your friend told you about on Twitter in your browser to when you leave saying "I have had enough" and close the browser window is all part of the user experience. You need to take into consideration the entire time the user is on your site and what the user experiences from start to end.
The start and end of a user's experience on your website can dramatically invoke feelings towards your company or even change their views on your service. The first impression is just as important as the last impression they are given once they have finished using your site. The importance of "The First Impression" has been a long time know fact in many industries and facets of life. Your first impression on a date, how you greet your new boss, applying for a new job, it is all about the first impression you convey to the user. When a user has not had their entire life to know you and your business, the first impression is the most important information they receive to start guiding you off of.
"Unpacking your iPod is like 'undressing your girlfriend for the first time'." - Andy Budd
The first type of impression that a user experiences comes from the speed of your website loading followed by the visual design and layout of the site.
"Web users form first impressions of web pages in as little as 50 milliseconds (1/20th of a second), according to Canadian researchers. In the blink of an eye, web surfers make nearly instantaneous judgments of a web site's 'visual appeal.'" - First Impressions Count in Website Design
The Halo Effect? Wait weren't we talking about web design not Halo and the Xbox. Wrong Halo. "The halo effect refers to a cognitive bias whereby the perception of a particular trait is influenced by the perception of the former traits in a sequence of interpretations. – Wikipedia.org". The 'Halo Effect' was made popular by a man named Edward Thorndike. Edward would conduct psychological studies on commanding officers on how they would rate their soldiers. He found that the commanding officers would find a single (good or bad) trait in the officer and use this to define and form their view on the soldier. Most soldiers would in turn either get "all good traits" or "all bad traits", either 5 stars or 1 star if you will.
Now what does all this have to do with web design? Since we know that people tend to see one good trait or one bad trait in a services, person or company and use that to form a view about them, then we can safely apply this to the user's experience on your website. Your websites design, layout and colors and invoke a lot more feelings then you believe. Your web presence will effect the way a user sees you and your company.
Professional High End Design can dramatically help keep your visitors at your site and in trust good feelings about your company and or service.
Having a well planned out means of conveying your services and information will keep user's coming back and spending more time on Your Website instead of Your Competitors. As simple as creating a easy to use navigation can increase your site's turnaround and bounce rate. Many users will become confused and leave a website if it takes to much time to locate what they are looking for. Having your information nested deep into your site under many links will do this to a user. One of your major goals on your website should be to make your information available to the user as easy and quickly as possible. Hiding all your links in a drop down menu and making user guest just will not cut it anymore. Remember the KISS principle, Keep it Simple, Stupid.
"In brand marketing, a halo effect is one where the perceived positive features of a particular item extend to a broader brand. " - Wikipedia.org
A excellent example of this helping out the rest of a company's products is Apple's iPod. The success of the iPod has in turn helped create a "glow" around all other Apple products. The iPod and now the iPhone has had such a positive effect on the way user's see all other products created by apple. This is what having a professional web designer and developer can do for your website and company.
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