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How to Optimize Your Website’s Nonverbal First Impression

May 30, 2014 | Nikki Bisel

Male with tape covered over mouth. Nonverbal first impression
Did you know that website visitors make a decision (as to whether they are in the "right place") in as little as 50 milliseconds? That means, in one sixth the time it takes for the human eye to blink, we've already figured out if we want to be on a website or not. Or to use a different comparison, the world's fastest pitcher could throw a baseball and you'd still have made a decision long before the ball ever got to the catcher's glove.
This all happens before a visitor reads any of your content. If your small business is experiencing a high bounce rate and a low amount of time on your site, it's time to look at your nonverbal first impression.

How do I improve my website's nonverbal first impression?

1. Design with visual patterns in mind

To sell to your consumer, you must think like your consumer. Put yourself in their eyes, and look at your website from a human behavior standpoint. When someone visits, what are the first things they see? We tend to view things from the top left, moving across, and then down the page a bit, repeating. If you think of this pattern as a "F" shape, you can take advantage of this by placing your content, headlines, and buttons within the eye map.

2. Emphasize your main navigation

Your logo, navigation menu, and search box are the most important areas of your home page, where readers will make a snap decision as to whether or not they like your page. Focus your efforts on these areas to capture the most attention.

3. Don't get too cluttered

When it comes to making our best nonverbal first impression, you want a medium amount of complexity to your website in order to have the best appeal. This Harvard study, conducted in 2013, found that users want a Goldilocks amount of complexity to the websites they visit—that is, not too much and not too little!
In other words, too many colors, and too many things (be it images, links, etc) can make your website appear cluttered. Here at Seafoam Media, we stress the importance of good design! 
While content may be king, a nonverbal first impression is going to make the difference as to whether or not someone actually reads your content! Your goal is to make your visitors feel comfortable (but also intrigued) within the 50 milliseconds you've got. Focus on the nonverbal cues your customers see, and you'll go a long way towards converting web traffic.

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