Let’s face it – looks matter.
It’s not that we’re all horribly shallow or vain, but when it comes to pretty much everything in life (from a spouse, to a new couch, or a car) if it’s easy on the eye, you won’t hear too many complaints.
Consider this… have you ever rocked up to a job interview or client presentation in your tracky-daks and very best ugg-boots? Of course not. We primp and preen and do our damnedest to look the best we can.
So does looking fabulous actually make us any more competent? Or is that ϋber-stylish couch any more comfortable than the daggy one at home with the well-established butt imprints?
But the truth is this:
FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT!
Which is why a rather lively discussion of sorts was sparked after a web designer on Twitter posted a link which led to a site loudly proclaiming: Your Web Design Does NOT Have To Look Good.
In a somewhat ironic turn of events, the web designer was arguing that quality content was far more important than the design of the site, while I (purveyor of quality content) was arguing that good design is every bit as important as the content.
When I was asked for an example to substantiate my claims of good content losing out to poor design, I had fortunately (?) stumbled across such a site only hours before. Despite great content – which I really did want to read – the design of the site was so poor that I left with no intention to return (at least not until the design was improved*).
The site in question? Comedian Wil Anderson’s.
Unfortunately for Wil, his web designer chose to use white text on a black background, which is almost an instant migraine waiting to happen for anyone brave enough to attempt reading the content. I actually abandoned the site mid-post, as my poor eyes were screaming for respite.
The reality is, even if you have awesome content (as I’m quite sure Wil does), if your site design is liable to cause a brain haemorrhage with harshly contrasted text, flashy ads – or it’s just plain ugly – people won’t stick around to read it.
According to this article from websiteoptimization.com, first impressions of a website are made in a mere one twentieth of a second! Certainly not enough time for your audience to read your content and decide if it overrides poor design.
If your website looks like the equivalent of a seedy 1970’s motel room, people aren’t gonna want to stick around!
The one thing we could all agree on, however, was beautiful web design lacking good content was much like a beautiful girl offering dialogue amounting to nothing more than “OMG..!!! Like, I can’t believe, like, how totally hot I look in these jeans!!! Like, don’t you just totally agree?!!! (oooh… shiny!…)”.
At the end of the day, it’s equally important to have a visually pleasing site which invites your audience to explore further and read your valuable content. A site lacking in either is not doing anyone any favours.
And Wil… if you’re reading this… love your work, but for the love of small, fluffy kittens – PLEASE DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR WEB DESIGN!!! (Seriously! Even light grey text over the black would be a massive improvement).
Thanks, from @the_copy_chick
*NOTE: I’m delighted to report that although most of Wil’s web pages remain black text on a white background, the blogs are now white text on a black background. Huzzah!!