How to Make a Good First Impression Online

Letters on Love

December 2, 2014

hell yeah

They say that first impressions count, and no more-so is this apparent than online. While in person, we might put someone’s slightly chaotic nature down to being nervous, or actually find it quite charming and endearing, online we are used to everything being a bit more polished. If your online presence is a mess, people are much less forgiving.

Your website

When it comes to hooking new visitors in, the design and usability of your website are the most important things. Your design doesn’t have to be complicated or over the top, in fact I think it should be the opposite! A recognisable brand and visual consistency (with your colours and fonts) and a lot of white space is a great place to start.

How easy your website is to navigate is crucial too. Allegedly you have just 2.5 seconds to grab a new visitor’s attention. If they don’t like what they see, or don’t know what to do to get them to where they want to be, they are very likely to simply close the window. Make sure your navigation is crystal clear and your content easy to access.

A fun little test that we talk about at The Blogcademy is ‘the mum test’. Show your website to your mum (or someone else not in your industry) and see if they’re able to navigate easily to certain areas of your site. If your layout isn’t obvious, or there’s something there that doesn’t quite work, you’ll quickly be able to find out about it. It’s impossible to do this ourselves, as we look at our own websites everyday and know them like the back of our hands. Other people do not!

good vibes only

Your portfolio

If you have a portfolio area of your site, this is probably going to be one of the first things potential clients click on. Therefore it’s essential that it shows your best, most recent work. It also needs to be work that reflects the kind of things you want to do more of.

Why would you have images or products in there that you are no longer proud of? It might be time for clear out and a rejig. I’d imagine that most people will click through around five images before they feel like they’ve got a good handle on what you do. Make the first five images in your portfolio the strongest! A smaller, well curated portfolio of only your best work will be much more impactful that one with every single thing you’ve ever done in there.

Your blog

There are two primary things that will put new readers off before they’ve read a word – if it hasn’t been updated in forever, or it has crappy imagery.

People are unlikely to want to subscribe or be bothered to come back if they don’t think you’re going to update regularly. So I’d encourage you to commit to blogging as often as you can, even if it’s just once or twice a month. Start some regular features, and make a commitment to it. In many ways an abandoned blog is far worse than not having a blog at all!

In terms of first impressions, photographs are probably the thing that will make the biggest one. It is the first thing people will notice. The old cliché, “a picture is worth a thousand words” is so true. In short, if your photos are crap, people will assume the content of the blog is too.

forever a mermaid

On social media

Take screen shots of your last five updates on the social media channels you use. Lay them out next to each other and step back. What first impression do they give?

Do you seem fun, approachable and friendly or snarkly, sarcastic and boring? Remember, people might first come across you via a retweet, a photo on Instagram’s explore page or share on their friend’s Facebook wall. They might not know anything about you before they click on your profile.

Therefore it is vital to always show your best self on your social media. You have to everywhere online of course, but especially on social media where updates are short, attention spans are even shorter and snap judgements are made really quickly.

Your shop

If you have an online store, then you need to make sure it’s properly promoting your offerings! Take everything else in this article on board – Is it easy to find and navigate? Can people search for specific items easily? Is it obvious how to buy something? Is the buying process seamless?

Great product photography is also well worth investing in. If the shots of your products are low quality, people will assume the same about what you’re selling. Try and tell a story or hint at the lifestyle buying your products will give your customers too. Look at the photos I’ve used in this article as an example. Don’t you think seeing those prints hung in those beautiful looking homes makes them seem a lot more appealing? Often selling what the product will do for people is a much stronger message than just being factual about what the item is.

What first impression do you think you give online?