Visual appeal matters a lot. My best advice: don’t try to save money on design, ever. I’ve seen time and again how a website redesign overhaul resulted in significant conversion boosts.

People form their opinion about your site in milliseconds. It takes about 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not, whether they’ll stay or leave. (Recently Google confirmed the 50 ms number in their own research.) The first second on your website might matter more than all other seconds that follow. Make sure that second makes a great first impression. This first impression depends on many factors: structure, colors, spacing, symmetry, amount of text, fonts, and more. 

Make your web design simple and familiar (follow conventions – e.g. people have a fixed idea what an e-commerce site should be like). If you go for innovative, unconventional layouts – people are less likely to like them.

Eyetracking study —  Researchers monitored eye movements as subjects scanned web pages. They  then analyzed the eye-tracking data to determine how long it took to focus on the menu, logo, images and social media icons before they moved on to another section. They discovered that the better the first impression, the longer the participants stayed on the page.

The website sections that drew the most interest from viewers were as follows:

  • Logo (6.48 seconds)
    • Main navigation menu (6.44 seconds)
    • Search box (6 seconds)
    • Social media icons (5.95 seconds)
    • Main image (5.94 seconds)
    • Written content (5.59 seconds)
    • Bottom of the website (5.25 seconds)


Elements that kill a design are complex, busy layout, lack of navigation aids, use of inappropriate colors, pop up adverts, slow introductions to site, small print, too much text, corporate look and feel, poor search facilities.

Good content is extremely important, but the visual appeal and website navigation appears to have the biggest influence on people’s first impressions of the site.  You gotta hook ‘em with design and then wow them with content.

Usability was the second most significant driver of first impression formation, followed by credibility.

It’s as simple as this:  People want to get inspired — DESIGN; they don’t want to waste mental energy on figuring stuff out – USABILITY;  and they want to be sure the website is legit – CREDIBILITY (which you give them with your content).