Making a good first impressionThere is a very old saying: you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Now, when you’re dealing with dating, this may not matter as much. If you can be persistent, you may yet get the girl (or the guy depending on who you are) to go out with you. However, when it comes to your customers, especially online customers, that first impression is usually all you’ll get if it’s not a good one. Here’s what you need to know:

7 Seconds

That’s about how long you have to get your potential customer to stick around at your website. If it loads painfully slowly, if it is garish looking or has poor grammar on the front page, the odds are good that it will take around 7 seconds before your customer decides to click back to Google and look elsewhere. That’s a customer who you lost and who will be making a purchase from your competition.

Be Fast

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. The first and foremost thing you want to do if you want to make a good impression is to have a fast loading website. This means minimal or no flash (flash takes time to load), minimal or no Java (same problem) and relatively small photos.

Reduce Photo Size

That last item by the way is one of the most common problems I see from inexperienced website owners. If you have a photo from your pizzeria of you slinging the pizza over your head like a real Italian chef, that looks impressive. The thing is, today’s digital cameras take huge photos. Even a cell phone camera will do 5 megapixels.
When you upload it to your website, your website building software will often automatically shrink the display size to fit the screen. However, the size of the file will be the same and if they click on the magnify button on their browser, they’ll see it in all its glorious detail. Now while that may sound nice, that also means those photos will be painfully slow to load on all but the fastest web connections.
A 5 megapixel photo means around 3-4MB. Got a dSLR camera? You may be doing as much as 15 megapixels and getting 10MB photos. You can easily reduce the size of those photos with pretty much any image manipulation program. If you don’t have one, GIMP is free though a tad complicated to understand. However, for reducing the size of an image, it’s pretty easy to figure out.
Try to get the file down to no more than 50K or so. Typically, this will mean no more than around 400×300 pixels – more than enough for a blog or website.

KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid)

Another principle that you should follow when designing your website in order to make a good first impression is the KISS principle. Keep the site simple. Don’t use lots of colors and flashing lights. People hate those and will simply close your site and look elsewhere. A nice clean look is much more likely to get you the customers you need.

Look Like a Pro

Finally, if you want to make a good first impression on your customers, take the time to double and triple check the grammar on your website. You want text which looks clear and is easily readable. If your own English language skills aren’t up to par, consider asking a friend to review what you wrote, or consider hiring a professional to fix what you wrote so that it sounds good.