21 Factors that Influence the First Impression of Your Website’s Visitors

When a new visitor comes to your website for the first time an initial impression will be formed pretty quickly. A good first impression will drastically increase the chances of that visitor returning again, and a bad first impression will be difficult to overcome.

This list looks at 21 factors that will influence your visitor’s impression within moments of arriving at your site. These are just some of the factors, not a comprehensive list. Feel free to list some others in the comments that you think should be included. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Load Time – Most of us are very impatient and slow loading pages will not make us want to return. On the other hand, pages that load quickly will encourage visitors to navigate through your site knowing that they won’t have to wait very long for each page to load.

2. Error Messages – If new visitors to your site are getting error messages and are unable to access your site, they’re not going to be impressed and they won’t be back. There are a number of different errors that can occur. BlogStorm recently published an article Why Businesses Need a Website that Works, which takes a look at one unsuccessful website with an obvious problem.

3. Colors – The look of your site will obviously be a factor in your visitors’ first impressions. The colors of your website can have a huge impact on the overall attractiveness of the site. Choosing the right color combinations can be difficult, but fortunately there are a number of online tools that can help. For a list of resources and links to some articles on the psychology of colors, see Find the Perfect Colors for Your Website.

4. Logo/Branding – Another factor in the overall look of your website is the logo and branding. Most importantly, the logo should help to brand your business in the way that you want visitors and customers to think of you. For more information, see What Makes a Great Logo? from David Airey.

5. Header Images – Dominant header images are often used and they can have a strong effect on first impressions. Personally, I’m not a big fan of large header images for blogs, but some blog designers use them with great success. I like to see the content start higher on the page, but many visitors don’t share my opinion (I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments below). Nate Whitehill uses a very attractive header image on his blog to make it stand out.


6. Typography – A somewhat subtle influence is the typography and fonts. A change in the typography may not be a drastic change, but it can make all the difference. See Five Simple Steps to Better Typography by Mark Boulton for a more complete look at the subject.

7. Layout – One of the most important design elements is the layout. Whatever layout you use should draw the reader’s attention to those items that are most important. Layout can be used not only to create an attractive design, but also to make the site easy for visitors to use. While most websites use a fairly standard design, a good way to make your site stand out is to use a more creative layout. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your creative layout adds to the effectiveness of the website rather than detracting from it.

8. Advertisements – One of the easiest ways to make a bad first impression is to have a website that is full of advertisements. Most of today’s internet users have come to expect advertisements to be present on most websites, but too many ads, the wrong type of ads, and poor ad placement can be a big turn off for visitors.

As a general rule you should avoid placing ads in places that will interfere with visitors being able to read your content, unless the goal of your site is to make money through ad clicks. Animated ads are also a touchy subject as they can also easily distract and annoy readers.

If you use advertisements that are relevant to visitors and are kept out of the flow of your content, visitors generally will not mind.

9. Your Reputation – Some of your first-time visitors will be familiar with you or your website before they even visit. In many cases they may have read about you on another website that links to you. This is especially common for bloggers. If that visitor has read a positive recommendation of you before visiting your site, you will have already developed a little bit of a reputation in the mind of that visitor that may affect the first impression. This can also work the opposite way if they have heard or read negative things before visiting.

10. Ease of Navigation
– We’ve probably all been at websites that looked like they had great content that we wanted to read, but just couldn’t find what we wanted. I’m not sure if there is anything more frustrating on a website than poor navigation. On the other hand, well-constructed navigation can help visitors to have a very positive experience on the site.

11. Clarity of Purpose
– New visitors should be able to very quickly determine the purpose of a website. Many sites effectively incorporate this into their branding by using a descriptive tag line that sums up the site’s purpose. About Us pages are also helpful for communicating purpose.

12. Unprofessional Items – Some items like low-quality animated GIFs and hit counters can give a negative first impression. Generally anything that makes your site look like it was designed 10 years ago should be avoided.

13. Quality of Images and Photos – It’s amazing how much impact a high-quality photo or graphic can have on a design. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources online for getting high-quality, low-cost photos, and some are even free. Searching for a good free picture may not be worth the time it takes when you can find one faster and pay $1 or $2. For a list of places to find photos online, see Stock Photography Resources.

14. Accessibility – Accessibility is a big buzzword in web design. The reality is that not all of your visitors will fall into the mould of the average visitor. Some will have handicaps, some will use older browsers, some will have slower connections, etc. If your website is not accessible to a visitor it’s almost guaranteed to create a bad impression.

15. Popups and Pop-unders – Most internet surfers now have some sort of popup blocker, but some websites are still using them. Most visitors don’t appreciate popups that aren’t blocked, and this can create a bad impression. Some sites, however, still use popups effectively, so it’s something that you will have to weigh the pros and cons.

16. Video and Audio – As more and more internet users have high speed connections, audio and video will continue to become more common. Some visitors appreciate these elements and it’s evident by the success of such sites as YouTube. A general rule with both audio and video is that it should not start automatically without the user choosing to have it start.

17. Associations – Visitors may be new to your website, but they may be impressed with associations to someone or something they know and respect. An example of this is web hosting provider Media Temple. Visitors to Media Temple’s website will see testimonials on the homepage from Nike, Sony, and Starbucks. If that visitor is wondering about the competence and capability of Media Temple, associations with these large, well-known companies will have a huge impact on the first impression. Another example is a website displaying a badge that shows membership in the Better Business Bureau.

18. Quality of Content – Of course quality content cannot be left off this list. While content may not have an instant impact like some of the factors that relate to the design of the site, it will have a significant impact on visitors that stick around for a minute or so. This is a big factor especially for blogs. A first-time visitor that finds really great content will remember their visit in a positive light.

19. Tone – In addition to the actual content, the tone of the content can also have an impact on first impressions. I’ve been on a few blogs that have strong content, but an unnecessarily negative tone by the blogger created a poor first impression.

20. Number of Comments and Trackbacks – New visitors to blogs will often notice the number of comments on posts. A lot of comments and trackbacks show that other readers are involved, and it indicates that this is likely a valuable resource. On the other hand, seeing no comments often causes the visitor to wonder how many other people are reading.

21. Flash Intros – Positive or negative, flash intros will impact the first impression of visitors. I’m not a fan of flash intros on most websites. I think they have their place on websites in certain industries, such as websites for movies or rock bands. Unless visitors will expect a website in your industry to have a flash intro, I would avoid it.

What would you like to add to the list?

Looking for hosting? WPEngine offers secure managed WordPress hosting. You’ll get expert WordPress support, automatic backups, and caching for fast page loads.

172 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • Lucas, November 27, 2007

    Funnily, re #20: This post has no comments :)

  • Lucas, November 27, 2007

    I would add that if it’s a blog or other article publication to add the date and author. I browsed directly to this page and have no idea who wrote it, their qualifications or even when it was written.

  • Vandelay Design, November 27, 2007

    Well it was just published a few minutes ago, so comments don’t come instantly. You have good points about the author and date. I’ve decided not to add the date because I think older posts lose some value when search visitors see they are old, even if they are not out of date.

  • pablopabla, November 27, 2007

    That’s a comprehensive enough list to work with. I am still unsure about the first impression visitors get on my site especially with 3, 4 and 5.

  • TyCat, November 27, 2007

    Wow, very great post. Thanks so much for this.

  • Free webmaster ebooks, November 27, 2007

    Great post. I have stumbled it. I will refer this page whenever i am designing webpage again. Thanks for listing them as points and easy to read. Till now only factors which i thought was load time and the headline.

  • Deron Sizemore, November 27, 2007

    I’ve decided not to add the date because I think older posts lose some value when search visitors see they are old, even if they are not out of date

    I think this works both ways. I understand your thought process and agree with it, but what about those visitors that land on your site and see no dates on posts, how do they know how old your site is? Maybe they like your content and would like to subscribe to your feed, but have no idea how often it’s updated or even if it’s updated at all anymore? I’ve always added dates (never thought otherwise) but what you said makes sense. What do you think?

    As for the other points. I agree totally. Good post. The quality of images really is a pet peeve of mine. It’s one thing to have just outright bad images, but what really gets me is when someone uploads a 1200×1500 pixel image and then uses html to scale it down to 100×300 and the quality just looks terrible! No excuse for that.

  • web design hunka, November 27, 2007

    Great article….I m sure it helps others lot…!!

  • Ayan, November 28, 2007

    The fact that “Content” came in at No. 18 kinda bamboozles me. I do realize that design, structure matters but nonetheless the content of the website is what ideally first hits the visitor even before he/she has arrived to your web-page. Case in point your keywords, and your site relevancy to what the visitor is looking for. Now am not a SEO, neither am advertising the same but then again all am saying is you could have the jazziest of websites and backed by the group of most trusted sources but if you aint able to communicate your message across within the first 10 seconds a visitor dedicates to your site then chances are you could be brushed off as just another HTML kiddie with an advanced diploma in web designing.
    Every factor listed is as important as its predecessor and the content itself per say should embody the essence of et all.

  • aliana, November 28, 2007

    its a great information to those who seeks more visitors to their website… i already bookmarked it! thanks for the post…

  • Ken Liang, November 28, 2007

    Great list, however, I think no.21 shouldn’t be there because Flash intro is so out of date, if I see one I’d probably assuming that the site is out of date too, may be that’s just me….

  • Robert, November 28, 2007

    How about spelling and grammar?

    e.g. 5. Header Images – Dominant header images are often used and they can have a strong affect..

    The word should be ‘effect’ not ‘affect’!

  • Keith, November 28, 2007

    Informative article, many thanks.

  • Matthew Griffin, November 28, 2007

    #12 “Unprofessional Items” is the one that really hit home with me. Specifically because its the one that’s out of our control a lot of the time. Many times clients insist on cluttering up our designs with with counters and crazy animations. In the end, all you can do is grin and bear it.

  • What is a blog?, November 28, 2007

    This is relevant not only to blogs, but to all websites. There is nothing that I hate more than visiting a website and hearing SOUND. If I want sound, then I have music playing and the website interferes with it. If I don’t want sound, then I don’t want it, period.

  • Wayne Liew, November 28, 2007

    What about an About page? I do know people who reads a blogger’s About Me page before proceeding onto the contents.

    The About page might add up the blogger’s credibility and show people his/her achievement in that particular niche.

  • Malcolm Lambe, November 28, 2007

    Re: #20 Comments. It’s hard to get people to comment. We’re all too busy I think. I just had 25,000 hits on my site for this post that was on Reddit and Digg – http://www.welcometowallyworld.com/frontpage/2007/11/27/the-voice-of-the-london-underground.html but only 18 of them left a comment (3 were spam). But you’re right – it looks like a ghost town if there are no comments.

  • Gareth Davies, November 28, 2007

    I am also massively turned off by web sites that force or even encourage me to use specific versions of specific browsers. Stating that it “works best for Foo version 12.0 and higher” is mildly irritating but refusing to serve pages unless you happen to be using Foo version 12.0 or higher is unacceptable.

    Multi-browser support is harder than it should be, but I always grit my teeth when a website fails to work – either by refusing to load at all or by rendering incorrectly – in my preferred browser and I have to switch to an alternative. Unless I absolutely need to use the website, I rarely bother.

  • Simonne, November 28, 2007

    You have gathered a lot of useful resources here.
    Regarding the number of comments, you are right, but I feel sorry to see that people judge a blog by this criterion. If a blog is new, it may take months until comments start to appear. Look for example at John Chow’s older posts: no longer than one year ago, he had posts with barely any comments, although the content was good (much better than it is now, in my opinion). And if I put myself in a newbie shoes, I still remember that last year I thought it was rude to write things on other people’s blogs. I had no clue they wanted that to happen actually :)

  • Earn free money Matched Betting, November 28, 2007

    That’s a great list.

    Too often visitor comments lean towards layout, typography and colour choices – when it’s the content they’ve really clicked though to read. If only it were possible to capture a visitors immediate thoughts on a websites design.

    #17 is a great tip though and we are inspired to give this a try. Thanks.

  • IntegrityDC, November 28, 2007

    There are some good ideas here. I would also add putting your contact information in a prominent position. This is especially true with business sites. Visitors often wish to contact a site owner. If they cannot find out how to do so easily, they will often leave, never to return.

  • Webdesign Nijmegen - AlthA, November 28, 2007

    Quite the list! Thx for sharing, it’s a good one to go by.

  • Bo Mark, November 28, 2007

    One thing I find annoying with sites that sell service or goods is that very few of them actually have a point of contact. At best they may provide an email address but usually they force people to submit a form if there is a problem. If you have a company, put your stinkin’ mailing address and phone number all over your site.
    This site is a prime example. If I was in need of design services from vandelaydesign.com, what country are you in? If you’re in Dubai or India then say it up front.

  • Student Loan Advise, November 28, 2007

    Showing the date or not is an interesting issue. Sometimes, I end up on an about.com expert page when I googling on a topic. They never give out dates of their articles. That’s okay for some things like turkey recipes or unclogging a toilet. Advice for those things are timeless. It’s annoying though when you’re hunting information that is more time dependent such as tech items.

  • Dallas Office Space, November 28, 2007

    My main issue is load time, if a site is slow I’m outa there.

  • Villy Ohm, November 28, 2007

    Great post there with lots of good examples. Personnaly I’d like some input on how visitors “look” at your website meaning which direction should you expect a first-time visitor to look at your page. Imagine a person from europe or the US visiting an arabic blog where everything is read from right to left…just the opposite of what you are doing right now ;-)

    Just trying to say that the “Golden Triangle” within design and graphics does play a role in webdesign

    Just my 5 cents

    Keep it up

    Villy

  • Vandelay Design, November 28, 2007

    Deron,
    You have good points on the date issue. Currently, the date shows with the excerpts on the front page or on the categories pages. So if someone is looking around the blog a little rather than just on one post they will see that it has been updated recently. I am starting to reconsider adding the date on posts though. Thanks for your feedback.

    Ayan,
    I agree with what you are saying. The fact that content was listed at #18 means nothing, they are in no particular order (which I mentioned right before the list starts).

    Ken,
    You’re saying that when you see a flash intro you immediately think the site is out of date. That’s exactly what a first impression is, and that’s why it is on the list.

    Robert,
    You’re right. I’ll edit that. Thanks.

    Matthew,
    Yeah, if you are designing for someone else their opinion is most important. There’s not much you can do if they insist.

    Wayne,
    Good point on the about page.

  • Luzi, November 28, 2007

    Thanks for this post!

    I am so absolutely desperate to see how even after some 15 years of internet development even the simplest of principles are ignored. I have just recently had to write about it (see link above). Sites should be lean, clear, and simple. No matter how complex the message. It takes a lot of effort sometimes to pursue this, but it’s worth it!

    I agree with Deron and would encourage you – even expect from such a straight talking person like you seem to be – to use dates. It is all about honesty and transparency.

  • Vandelay Design, November 28, 2007

    Luzi,
    Thanks for your feedback. I have to admit I’m kind of surprised that the date is much of an issue, but I appreciate the input because it is good to know and I’ll have to look into making that change.

  • Daryl, November 29, 2007

    Nice article, but would definitely add “Spelling” to the list – a real hang-up of mine is seeing sites littered with simple spelling mistakes.

    (PS: #14 it’s mould not mold) :oP

  • Nate Whitehill, November 29, 2007

    Thanks for the mention, guys! Awesome article!

  • EfratVil, November 29, 2007

    Great article.
    Clear and to to point.
    good content, it all makes pefect sense

  • Vandelay Design, November 29, 2007

    Daryl,
    You’re right, that is a good addition. Thanks for pointing out my mistake. I’ll fix it.

    You’re welcome Nate.

  • Richard, November 30, 2007

    Great post, thanks for sharring your thoughts! I found your points to be spot on.

  • Jim Spencer, November 30, 2007

    The date is an important component. You have to trust the user enough to determine if the information is still valid. Omitting the date is omitting valuable information.

    Consider canonicalization and WordPress. Before ver. 2.3 it was something to fix. Now it is not. So, for an article on that subject the date is very relevant.

    Another item to consider is pronouns. Is it effective to use the royal “we” instead of “I”, when the author is really a one man/woman shop with some sub-contractors here and there? Some try and sound bigger than they are. Where is the authenticity?

    Alternatively, “I”, if not used sparingly, can sound too personal and pompous. Pronoun use is on an About Us page should be carefully considered. Some skip the pronouns and use the company name. What do you think works best?

  • Vandelay Design, December 1, 2007

    Jim,
    I agree with you that the day helps readers to determine if the content is still relevant. That’s the main reason right now that is causing me to lean towards including the date on each post.

    An example is an article I wrote several months ago about Google’s supplemental index. Some of the info in that article is no longer current and up-to-date, so if someone comes directly to that article a date would be helpful.

    As far as the pronouns go, I don’t have a strong opinion on the issue. Like you pointed out, I don’t really like reading About pages that have constant use of “I” or “we.” On the other hand, mentioning the company name too many times can get old too. So, I guess my thought is that by mixing it up you’ll get the best results.

  • Web Designer in Spain, December 1, 2007

    Great article and I will be following many of the tips on my own clients pages!

  • Nathan Ketsdever, December 1, 2007

    It might be interesting to see a whole post on….Ease of Navigation
    particularly as it relates to blogs.

  • Vandelay Design, December 2, 2007

    Nathan,
    That’s not a bad idea. Maybe we can make that happen.

  • sara, December 4, 2007

    Thats great post, i am searching for this kind of information only. very informative. i do need a suggestion from you, i am having a site websupportworld.com providing 24/7 support services for website like chat support, email support, voice support etc., what kind of business person can i approach to buy those packages. pm me the solution.

    thanks in advance.

  • Alexis Brion, December 16, 2007

    Colors are an important topic, not only because it has to look nice but also because contrast among them is going to make your website more readable.

  • mikra, December 31, 2007

    Great post!
    Regarding the date issue: even if you don’t display it, the dates of comments are still displayed, so it’s not hard to figure out (considering the date of the first comment) when it was written :)

  • Vandelay Design, December 31, 2007

    Mikra,
    I agree with you on the date issue. If someone wants to find the date it’s pretty easy. That being said, after this article was initially published I did add the date to all blog posts as a result of the comments.

  • peri oyunları, March 9, 2008

    great information. i like this site realy too much

  • enfopedia, March 15, 2008

    Great information, I will definatly bookmark this page and look over it when designing another web page.

    Great stuff on this site!

  • Bloomtools, April 9, 2008

    I would like to add Title of your webpage which suggest the focus of your webpage

  • RONNIE, April 24, 2008

    very very useful. It has just solved my probs…

  • gopal, July 3, 2008

    tune enda phara
    zure zure
    its full of shite

  • Brisbane web designer, July 4, 2008

    I hate flash sites. They are slow to load and really suck from an SEO point of view. Thanks for the post. I’ll give it a stumble.

  • kurye, July 15, 2008

    kurye servisi of madeni Turkey Thanks to links :)

  • Kit Homes, July 18, 2008

    Great article.I keep refering back to it everytime I am working on a new site.
    Thanks

  • Web Design Company, July 24, 2008

    No. 13 touches a chord 4 me. A post with images complementing it attracts the visitors far more than one without it. Off course, if the content is interesting enough, it will do well on its own. Otherwise, an aesthetic image can be of gr8 help.

  • sOhbeT, July 27, 2008

    thank you!

  • Australian Web Directory, August 12, 2008

    Wow, that’s a lot to absorb in a first impression. Thanks for the post. I’ll use it as a checklist. Why do some people insist on flash intros? Maybe Google could have a flash content filter (sort of like adult content filter), that doesn’t show flash sites.

  • Web 2.0 Development, August 13, 2008

    Absolutly Right!
    Great post for web designers, its basic requirment to stay vistors on site…Thanks!

  • Rak, August 20, 2008

    As a new memeber of the blogging world I really found this post to be helpful. I someday hope to become a “real” web-designer but for now I will take a all the tips I can. Who knew even without any relation humanism, that first impressions were so important.

  • Sohbet, August 26, 2008

    Thank you very much It is enough knowledge

  • Andre Thomas, September 7, 2008

    That is definitely a useful checklist. Most of the things I have done already but several of them I have not.

    Also, if people look at the number of comments to judge the website, wouldn’t it be a vicious cycle?

  • Teknoloji, September 8, 2008

    Great article and I will be following many of the tips on my own clients pages!

  • free, September 9, 2008

    Looks like you got a lot of great tips on here. I really enjoyed the post that I have reading.

  • James, September 21, 2008

    I couldn’t agree more with most of these. Large logo headers just piss me off. Sure, some look cool, but they simply obscure what I came to the site for, which is content.

    And content is king! The greatest looking site is completely worthless without great content. I’m a guy, I love a great looking woman, but if she’s dumb as my shoe, I’m not sticking around very long…

    And intro videos need to go. Please, I don’t need them to be impressed, nor do I care to sit through a 40 second display of your Flash skills. In fact, for the most part, Flash sites all suck. They make it difficult to navigate, read and save.

    I’ve found that most designers who use Flash to design an entire site tend to hide the fact that they have little to say with cute and gimmicky animation. Please, just give me the content the way I expect to see it. There’s a reason newspapers have been around for hundreds of years. They’re clear, concise, easy to “navigate.”

    Excellent article!

  • Relocatable Buildings, November 9, 2008

    what an awesome article..
    any web designer should bookmark this

    thanks

  • tyas, December 17, 2008

    very good ideas.. I also hate when there is a pop up if i visit some blog.. And the load time, I still have problem with this.. I thought I’ve deleted script or picture that make it heavy but it still tkes long time to load.. Still working on it..

  • not only the list is perfect. also the set of priorities in this list. nice work!

  • SergiuGothic, December 24, 2008

    James, I agree with you the most, this have to be a very important point of view for future in website development, you know, “just put that f***** content up” :D it’s not cool when you have to wait for that f**** flash. Not to remove that flash, but to put a skip button, you know…

  • rewinn, January 2, 2009

    “Accessibility” has grown from the important-but-niche aspect of visual handicaps to the very-broad category of non-traditional browsers, cellphones in particular.

    If your site can’t be read & navigated on a cellie, you’re losing a lot of audience.

  • Georgia, January 26, 2009

    Great list and I agree with all, but mainly agree that content is still king.

  • asus, March 9, 2009

    Very interesting factors? that you’ve shown, but I think,it’s missing here just one – human factor.

  • ShelleyDelayne, March 18, 2009

    Great post! Agreed all all points, including the point added by commenters: readily available CONTACT INFO.

    And, if I may add one point of my own: check your SPELLING and GRAMMAR, and then have someone else check it.

  • Citra Indah, March 27, 2009

    Hi,
    you have posted a very nice & useful article here. Over 100 comment in this post that mean all wanna thank to you.

  • David North, April 5, 2009

    Thanks for the good ideas on making a first impresson at your web site. First impressions are important and you only get one chance to make one.

  • Foxy, April 21, 2009

    Nice post the typography bit was most interesting to me

  • anon, April 25, 2009

    “on the other hand” usually refers to a counter-argument to a point made not another fact to support your current argument. ie “Most people find A bad for them, on the other hand A can be a great way to get B” Friendly fact for the future :)

  • Portland Web Design, April 27, 2009

    Nice post, thanks for the reminders about items that sometimes we forget to double and triple check.

  • sekshikayeleri, May 4, 2009

    Great post there with lots of good examples. Personnaly I’d like some input on how visitors “look” at your website meaning which direction should you expect a first-time visitor to look at your page. Imagine a person from europe or the US visiting an arabic blog where everything is read from right to left…just the opposite of what you are doing right now ;-)

  • Alex Peterson, May 4, 2009

    Awesome article. And great overall blog. One for the bookmarks…

  • Jim S, May 12, 2009

    Good list. Thanks for considering the #11 clarity of purpose/intent and #14 accessibility. I usually find on most sites they are either not accessible or it was a feeble afterthought attempt just so you can say “it’s accessible” even though it may not really be accessible. Here is a free online accessibility checker – http://cynthiasays.com/
    Thanks!
    ~ Jim
    ~ tweet: @seo_web_design

  • 4design, May 26, 2009

    My site has had several mistakes in this list 21 errors. After reading this post, I have to correct them. Let’s look at the results, then I post here. Thank you very much for this useful article!

  • sima49, May 30, 2009

    hey this is some good information i will try it out on my site.

  • Alex C., May 31, 2009

    Great info, I’ll for sure keep those in mind, and try to optimise my website!
    I’d also add “writing valid code” so that the website validates. Checking it with W3C Validator (http://validator.w3.org/) would be good practice.

    Anyways, helpful post!

    Thanks a lot!

  • Max Hernandez, June 10, 2009

    Great article!!! I prefer embed good flash animations in the sections of the site.

    Max.

  • Russ Frazier, June 11, 2009

    I would add:

    Avoid Goofy Backgrounds – like sparkling or moving stars, snowflakes, etc.

    Avoid Background Music – many people surf the web in places (at work) where they don’t particularly want all of their neighbors to hear what they are up to.

    Give em Some Meat – When visitors come to your site, they want to find out more information, specifications, color options, prices, details, details, details…give it to them.

  • Website Design Services, July 6, 2009

    Great and funny first impression factors. If you are a web designer or a web developer, you will be even more picky about websites. If I see a site coded in tables, I freak out and if it has one thing wrong, I close out of it.

  • Jump higher, July 11, 2009

    Most of these points are obvious, helpful hints, with great examples shown throughout the site. The ones that I need to think about seriously are video/audio and getting cheap (but not nec. free) images. This is a good checklist to check against.

  • Mandy | Print n Ink, July 16, 2009

    Hi there
    This is really a complete break down and its amazing what all goes into the design of a web site. These are all fantastic points to keep in mind when creating a web site. Thanks for the break down.
    I am really enjoying your blog, finding it informative and very helpful.

  • hiphone cect, July 16, 2009

    Definitely awesome!

    Obviously nobody serious enough about his internet business can’t go around these critical points…

    Thanks for the post!

  • Gastabrajter, July 18, 2009

    I didn’t know that Logo is that important I never give much time for that.

  • SEO Company, July 22, 2009

    Did not realize there was so many factors, great article.

  • wrought iron furniture, August 20, 2009

    Looks like you got a lot of great tips on here. Thanks!

  • London Web Design, August 26, 2009

    It is really professionally explained , i want to thank you for sharing you knowledge. a designer should design website keeping these points in head. first impression is last impression no doubt at all.

  • buy backlinks, August 28, 2009

    Love it love it, love it! This is definitely a post to show to “the boss” as a “told you so”. Thanks for the info.

  • wrought iron beds, August 31, 2009

    This was a good article and I will be working on changing up my site, thanks!

  • Facebook applications, September 5, 2009

    Verrrrrrrrrrry informative and helpful post, specially for new desingners. Keep it up good work. Thanks

  • Graphic Designer, September 8, 2009

    You forgot the most important thing, is your content relevant to their search, did they want to find you! Make sure all your meta tags and seo are relevant to your website. Who wants to land on and waste time on irrelevant web sites. Matt.

    • Vandelay Website Design, September 8, 2009

      Matt,
      Meta tags are basically worthless at this point. They’re not going to do much of anything for SEO, but I agree that they should be relevant if you’re using them at all.

  • Byggeri, September 23, 2009

    I’m with you on the not-so-large header images. I prefer having the actual content higher up, so there’s more room above the fold.

    Regarding loadtime, I just recently moved a site of mine (Byggeklar) onto a new server – and Pingdom.com now reports loadtimes way, way slower than before. Not sure if it’s a reliable measuring tool though. Anyone?

  • Improve Your Vertical, October 1, 2009

    Point 16 is one of my biggest pet peeves. I cannot believe how many sites force you to listen to their repetitive music with non-obvious mute buttons hidden on the page somewhere. I rank videos that start automatically slightly below the music though.

    Also I have to agree with all the folks that say you should include the date (which you did change), it can depend on the topic as well. If a particular post is more time sensitive it may annoy readers more to find out they are reading outdated info.

    Overall I like the list!

  • Cara Dixon, October 20, 2009

    Really great article! Provides a really good overview of the major contirbuting factors to creating a good first impression on a website. This will definitely prove really useful in the future! Thanks for sharing!

  • Smooth Step Design, November 11, 2009

    I would recommend to enable website compression (gZip or Deflate) for those browsers that support it. This dramatically increases load times for complex pages that have lots of HTML and CSS.

  • Widy Jantiko, November 23, 2009

    .some awesome advise.. I Must Try it.. thanks…

  • Fire Extinguishers, January 8, 2010

    Think that is a fair enough assessment of a good site and pretty much in the right order. If you follow that you cant go to far wrong.

  • sağlıklı yaşam, February 28, 2010

    “Love it love it, love it! This is definitely a post to show to “the boss” as a “told you so”. Thanks for the info.” thanks.

  • ip numaram, March 1, 2010

    Good post. The quality of images really is a pet peeve of mine. It’s one thing to have just outright bad images. Thanks again.

  • Mike, March 9, 2010

    Some of these things are quite obvious and others really got me thinking. Sometimes I really get sucked into number 12 type things but on my main sites it stays strictly professional.

    Regarding 18, quality of content, I try very hard to keep it relevant and authoritative.

  • munir ardi, March 18, 2010

    First impression is interesting

  • High-Tech, March 26, 2010

    I am not reallt a fan of fan intros either.
    I like it when I have a direct full view of the site I am visiting.

  • Ward Yaternick, April 1, 2010

    On a related note, from the author’s point of view, Google Analytics makes it easy to see the ratio of first time visitors to repeat visitors. And you can also tell if they stayed for only a very short amount of time.

    If you find Google Analytics difficult to navigate, then there’s alternate easier ways of getting the Google Analytics data. e.g.
    http://analyticshelper.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/anybody-can-be-a-google-analyst/

    My point is, if you can see a lot of bounces by first timers, then people are coming for just a moment and leaving right away. That’s telling you something’s wrong with your page.

    • Vandelay Website Design, April 1, 2010

      Ward,
      A high bounce rate could also indicate other things like maybe the source of traffic (such as social media) is contributing to short visits. It’s not always a problem with your page, although I would agree with you in general.

  • Ward Yaternick, April 1, 2010

    Good point – the definition of bounce is abitrary. As an alternative, one could convert something like timeOnPage into quartiles. That at least makes the durations relative to others on the page. (our product, freely downloadable at http://www.nextanalytics.com) would allow you to do that.

    Now what I really need to do is implement your suggestions on my own site which I admit needs improvement — sigh, so much to do, so little time.

  • Website Design brisbane, May 10, 2010

    Awesome list. Still using it from months ago. Thought I would make a quick thanks message! :)

  • VPS, May 12, 2010

    not only the list is perfect. also the set of priorities in this list. nice work!

  • College Reviews, May 20, 2010

    Yeah! That’s right. Very good factors. It made me impressed from this article. This so great!

  • Web Design Brisbane, October 31, 2010

    I really think flash websites are the worst. They’re slow to load, not accessible, and horrible from an SEO perspective.

    Great list, thanks.

  • Vanessa, May 6, 2011

    Great post. and comments. I’ve been a blogger since 2003. Amazing what has happened in web design, etc., since then. Photo blogs, video. It is important I believe to understand many who work in visual arts may not be as fluent with text content. Their sphere is visual. So their sites are meant to reveal the best they can come up with, photography for example.

    I use a blog platform and then re-design the template to try to blend photos and text together in a way that appeals to me. It’s difficult. As a photographer for the past two years and an art illustrator (many years ago), I want the photos to speak. For an artist it’s always visual–first. I want to communicate with visitors. But I admit, for me, the photography comes first.

    I create a blog for myself and then visitors. It’s impossible to please everyone anyway, as you can see from the comments. Separating opinion from what is useful is always a challenge on the Web.

    The Web is dominated by technology not art or creativity. I doubt many in the field have considered artists in Web development or coding, etc–until the past few years. So I keep experimenting. I’m not running a business at this time. My concern right now is developing as a photographer. A blog is helpful in doing that. I have a large slider in the blog I’ m creating right now. I can change the photos at will. Will I keep it? Don’t know. Don’t want to turn people off with it. On the other hand, I like it —will visitors feel the same way?

    As an artist allowing others to define what you do is unheard of. The creative vision is in you. Imagine allowing public opinion tell you what colors to use in an oil painting, or the materials to use in a sculpture. On the Web what others think is crucial to building a readership or following. Perhaps one day the two will become compatible, but that has not happened yet. So we have to keep exploring possibilities.

    As artists we create the work and let others come along side if they desire to. We don’t adjust the art to appeal to the masses. When we do, we cease to be artists.
    We live in a world of technology. Incorporating art into that is not easy.

    Love your site been following for years. Never disappointed. Thanks.

  • Toronto Web Developer, June 10, 2011

    Very incredible list!

  • David, October 1, 2011

    I also think that as well as avoiding the flash intros, splash pages are a big no no.

  • Tim in Naples, October 6, 2011

    Obviously some of this has changed since originally published but for the most part the points have held the test of time. The one clear thing that taints a site is obvious ads.

  • Brian, December 23, 2011

    You couldn’t be more right about #8. If I go to a site looking for info and see more than one of those Google AdSense modules I hit the back button. When they stack those modules in the content area I assume they’re just writing nonsense articles or their scraping info.

  • Anita Clark, February 23, 2013

    Nearly 6 years later and much of this list is still very relevant. Make it easy to navigate and have great content and visitors will want to stay.