visual design importance

The Importance of Visual Design in Websites

When it comes to websites, everyone is talking about conversion rates and analytics. But what about visual design? This is an aspect of tremendous importance that is overlooked more often than you might think. 

While data and numbers are important, human psychology functions on visuals. Most of the content humans process is through their eyes, and we are very quick to judge. Not only does a bad website design influence people negatively, it also decreases their trust. Design has the potential to become the key differentiator in marketing your website. Many companies win over their competition simply because they offer a better user experience. 

Since any visual design is a subjective matter, let’s delve into several topics that stand clear no matter the industry. 

Users judge a website by its cover

mac screen

The famous phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t stand when it comes to websites. Users do judge your online store in less than 50 milliseconds. According to several studies, including one from Google itself,  the first impression is created in a 10th of a second. For an entire opinion to be formed, it takes 0.05 seconds. 

Why should you pay attention to this? Because in this extremely small time frame users decide whether they will stay and browse your website or not. In the end, it all comes down to structure, spacing, fonts, texts, symmetry and colors.

Impressions are driven by inspiration

inspiration visual design

Other studies have concluded that websites focusing on inspiring elements have a better impact on first impressions. Users spend more time on websites that include visually appealing stimuli, and they are also more likely to become buyers. Most successful online stores have a large image on their hero section.

The second most important aspect that influenced people is the usability of the website, how intuitive and easy to use it is. Lastly, credibility is something to take into account – whether your online store breathes trust.

Visitors enjoy simplicity

visual design simplicity

According to a study made by Google in 2012, websites that are deemed visually complex have lower ratings than the ones that have simpler designs. Online stores with a simple design and layout similar to others in their industry category were rated as more beautiful.

In other words, familiarity and simplicity are the key to implementing a successful website. But how do you make a website simpler? Make sure to keep only the necessary information and content, and try to get rid of anything that might cause distractions. Noisy elements include banners, animations, design elements, automatic sliders, columns. 

Every page must be designed with a specific goal in mind, to make users understand what the subject is about. It should also be clear in its purpose and focused, as well as confer trust. People must be confident enough to take the next step in their buying journey. The secret recipe in building any website page is to find the perfect blend between the amount of text and useful details that come in handy at the right time. 

People tend to categorize everything they interact with, they create a mental layout for how things should look. This is called prototypicality, and it’s one of the basic aspects you should take into account when creating a website. Make sure to look at other online stores in your industry and model your own accordingly. 

94% of first impressions are related to website design

visual design impressions

Another study based on eye-tracking arrived to the conclusion that the main driver of first impressions is the aspect of the website. The elements that took the first places were the logo, the navigation menu, the main photos and the colors. The users who took part in the study had subsequently bad opinions on the entire online store, based solely on the aforementioned elements.

Similar research found that website visitors pay a lot of attention to visual cues, even more than to the actual content. Almost half of the participants to the study assessed the entire credibility of the website based on the layout, images, colors and fonts.

In conclusion, the importance of visual design can be summarized as finding the perfect mix between creativity and data. While you want to attract the attention of users and make a memorable first impression, it’s always extremely important to model your website on the template used by your industry. 

You must also always look at the measurable data behind your website, observe the behavior of the people who visit your online store, and optimize accordingly. Remember to measure the time of their visits, where they click, where they decide to abandon their journey, which pages deliver and which don’t. 

At the end of the day, your purpose is to make your website users convert. The best design is the one that determines people to take this action, even though it might not be the prettiest. 

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