Chapter 3: The Impression Zone

First Impressions Matter

Learning objectives:
1. Learn why first impressions are crucial for your website’s success.
2. Understand what factors you can change to create your best first

What is a Website's First Impression?

A website’s first impression is exactly what it sounds like. No tricky jargon. Just as in real life, when you meet an important person, say a potential employer, you want to make a good impression on them. That is to say, you want them to immediately regard you as a person that is relevant to them, and credible. At the very least, you want to be interesting long enough for them to discover that you are relevant and credible.

It's the same with virtual interactions. When a user visits your website, they are instantly considered a potential customer. Any potential customer has a lot of value and we want to keep them on the page as long as we possibly can so that they become a buying customer.

Customer acquisition is often the most expensive part of business, so you want to get the maximum ROI for your website by keeping the visitors’ attention, which happens when they are engaged.

Think of this part of the web engine as the compression zone in our engine – we are taking a cold lead and feeding them all the right information in an attempt to control how they perceive our brand and value offerings. We do this quickly because most people will leave if they aren’t immediately impressed with what they see.

Many things can cause a person to be unimpressed and therefore lost to alternative products and services that are a mere click away. Just as the web is a powerful platform for you, it can all too easily provide your potential customers with access to your direct competition. This is why first impressions are vital to your success.

So How Can You Make A Good Impression?


The first hurdle to a good impression is easy to control. How are the expectations of visitors met when they visit your site? If your site's name is ‘’, then the visitors have already been 'pre-framed' to have certain expectations simply by becoming aware of the name of your website. If, when they get to your site, they find something different than an array of cool tiki torches to buy, they will probably leave pretty quickly.

Other places where visitors build expectations before going into your website are search engine results. If they expect to find a certain answer, or even a certain quality of answer on the Google results page, and they don’t find it, then they won’t visit your site. With some technical SEO tactics, we can control the language that appears on the Google results page.


So, you can see that your first impression begins even before a visitor goes to your website! The upside of this is that when expectations are met correctly, we are likely to see higher conversion rates. This is because your site visitors are more likely to be engaged with the site content from the beginning.

Once a visitor is on the site, there are a number of things that need to be in place in order for the guest to stay engaged. They should feel welcome, aesthetically pleased, and have an immediate understanding of why they are on the site, meaning they understand the value you are providing. If they don't immediately sense that the interaction they are about to have will be of value, they will jet out!

Tip: Think about your own behavior: how much time do you spend on sites that don't do something valuable for you?

Understanding User Experience

One of the keys to creating an outstanding first impressions on your website is what is known as User Experience or UX. Often the idea of User Experience is paired with a term called User Interface, which is essentially the nuts and bolts of how your user receives and submits data from your site (i.e. buttons, forms, navigation bars, links, etc.). In other words, how easy is it for the user to find what they are looking for?

These ideas are closely linked because the User Experience is formed by interacting with the website and the means of this interaction is the User Interface. User Interface is literally everything you see on the screen. It’s how a website feels, down to how scrolling or navigating on your website pages is implemented.

UI/UX can be overwhelming and complex but, like all of web planning and development, it doesn't need to be. Often the implementation of a standard, simple UI will meet all of the user's needs, won't create any problems, and it will be easy to maintain. It's always possible to make a big impression with flashy scroll animations, but keep in mind that a huge part of good UI is avoiding unwanted interactions. Keep it simple.

A common User Interface issue you may have experienced is this scenario: You load a web page, perhaps on your phone. As the page loads, you see the text that you want to read, but it is constantly shifted down the screen as advertisements load. This is a horrendous, glitchy, slow user experience. You may be making money from the ads, but you are losing site visitors.

Tip: Good UI/UX will probably go unnoticed. Bad UI/UX will result in lost opportunities.

Informational Layout

Informational layout is probably the most important thing that will engage users and keep them engaged. If it is difficult to find the information users are looking for, they are likely to look elsewhere. Keep in mind, a world of alternative informational sources is a click away.

A very powerful way to communicate a large amount of information effectively is to leverage great, original images. Images should be foundational to your site. Excellent imagery is essential and should communicate your business's brand and thematically represent the information that you want your user to receive, consciously or subconsciously.

Copy is equally important, and paired appropriately with imagery (which can also be illustrations and graphics), you can build high-powered communication machines that streamline information to your users.

Good copy can be difficult to achieve, and an important thing to keep in mind with both imagery and copy is that it is unlikely to be perfectly optimized when the site is first published, and that’s okay. Everything should be tested and updated for maximum first impression.

Bad First Impressions: Bouncing Visitors

When your first Impression is poor, visitors will leave your site. This is called a bounce.

Believe it or not, Google tracks this behavior, called a bounce rate. When visitors bounce often, or within a certain timeframe, Google will tie this information to your website and your relevance in search results will be lowered - something you don’t want!

You should monitor this bounce rate metric and use the data to improve your first impression by changing how UI/UX is implemented and filling any gaps between what customers expect and what they get when they visit your site.


Impress your Audience

First impression is very powerful. Much like the compression stage in a jet engine, your first impression compresses the people visiting your website down to a critical state where they are much more likely to follow through on your calls to action. Keeping people on the site is the goal, and the first impression is the means by which we achieve that goal. First impressions must happen quickly and must convince your potential customers that what you have to sell is of great value.

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