Apr 23, 2012

Your Website: It’s About Time

Websites offer a seemingly endless amount of space for your content, especially compared to traditional media like print or broadcast. For a relatively small hosting fee, you can literally publish entire libraries of text. An average 500 MB hosting account has enough room for more than 150 copies of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” 400 copies of Melville’s “Moby Dick” or 600 copies of James Fennimore Cooper’s “Last of the Mohicans.”

When you’re passionate about your business, the temptation is to use as much of that space as possible to share your enthusiasm and expertise with potential customers. But it’s all a trap, a painful deception. The truth of the matter is that your customers have a lot less time than you have space.

The numbers behind the online user experience (or “UX”) can be downright painful.

The average website visitor takes around 50 milliseconds — that’s one-twentieth of a second — to assess the visual appeal of a website. Their reaction to the site’s graphic design is an important factor in a visitor’s decision to remain on the site or skip along to the next search result. In fact, a number of UX studies over the past several years have shown that most visitors make the decision to either remain on a site or leave within 7 to 10 seconds.

Visitors also generally don’t like to work very hard to interact with your website. If your web server is particularly slow or your site uses some old and creaky interface design, you’re losing business, guaranteed. If your site takes more than 1 second to respond to a user action — clicking on a link or navigation button, usually — studies show a rapid rise in frustration which leads to an early departure. More complex website tasks, such as filling out a form or checkout on e-commerce sites, show a steep increase in abandonment if they take more than 1 minute to complete.

Just because you can fit the equivalent of “War and Peace” into your website doesn’t mean you should. A well-considered, informative design and engaging content will get you more business.

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