I was reading a blog recently which was discussing statistics relating to what people look for when visiting a website, and what the important factors are in deciding whether to do business with that company.
The statistics showed that there has been a continual increase in the importance that people put on how well designed the website is. Obviously things like load time, and particularly the content of the website are important, after all the user has visited the site to gain information, not because they fancy looking at something pretty. But to me personally, the design quality of a website has always been important.
Recently I have been looking at making a hotel booking and so have been Googling relevent hotels and viewing their websites to get a feel for what they are like. This seems to be an industry where websites are particularly poor, and very often do noting to “sell” the hotel to the user. I tend to close any that I don’t like the look of without exploring any further.
Having spoken to several friends about this I wasn’t surprised to learn that they too take notice of the quality of websites, and actually close websites immediately if the website looks terrible. And these are users that are not involved in the web design world. No doubt they will have analysed the issues with the website a lot less than I do, but recognising design quality is instinctive and practically instant. Users know what is good, even if they don’t know why it is good, and this instant reaction is enough to make or break their decision to explore a site further.