Design Tips for Keeping Visitors on Your Website


During FPA Experience 2012 in San Antonio recently, a number of advisers approached me with this question: “What can I do to attract and keep visitors on my website?”

Conversations about websites seem to focus on copy content, but choosing the right images and color schemes are equally important. So I’d like to briefly touch on some of the most elementary principles that must be taken into consideration when building a website.

Basic Psychology
When designing your website, consider the most basic psychological aspects of your visitors’ experience:

  • what they want
  • how they want to get it
  • how you can make their experience valuable

Complement your copy with images that reflect your understanding of their issues, as well as your ability and expertise to effectively address them. Aesthetically pleasing images and chromatically coordinated colors help capture and hold your target audience’s attention and facilitate deeper engagement. So select images and colors that will likely create an immediate connection and help visitors follow your call to action—whether it is getting in touch with you, subscribing to your newsletter or referring a friend. If your key audience is widows, an image of a smiling couple riding in a convertible, although pleasant, will certainly not be help you connect with that audience’s main issues.

Instant Gratification
Visitors to your site seek instant gratification—they want to quickly be convinced that you can solve their issues. Treat every page of your website as a single communication project with a clear focus and purpose.

Keep in mind the adage: less is more. Avoid images and copy overload just because you are afraid of leaving some empty spaces. Sometimes, an empty space on your site is powerful; it reinforces your point, does not distract your audience, allows the visitor to reflect on your message and, ultimately, directs visitors to the destination you want them to go.

The Law of “Z”
In the Western world the majority of people tend to follow a “Z” pattern while browsing a website. They start across the top from the left and end in the bottom right corner of their screen. Although the Z-layout is not the ultimate solution for all websites, it naturally satisfies the average visitor’s habit. Consequently, seek to place the most important mark of your identity—your logo—at the top of the Z.

Visitors’ eyes will naturally follow the path of the Z to its end, where you’ll strategically place your call to action. Along the Z path make sure to provide valuable information that will further encourage and motivate visitors to act on your call-to-action.

Create a Bond
The type of images you choose for your website contributes to your visitors’ mood. Well-chosen, appropriate images carry and amplify your message. They capture your visitors’ attention, making them feel they are in the right place and persuading them to take action. Wrong images can leave them confused, annoyed lacking trust and feeling they have on a useless site.

What are the appropriate images to create that bond? Think about the primary purpose of your practice. If your practice specializes in retirement plans, select images that convey concepts such as the attainment of a goal or the ability to avoid danger—images that conjure in the visitor’s mind feelings of safety and not being alone. Good images have a clear-cut concept, are well perceived visually and psychologically, and have the power to create an immediate bond.

Credibility and Trust
Despite its popularity, the Internet can still be a scary place for many individuals. Fear of falling victim to scams makes many consumers wary and suspicious about sharing personal information online. Consequently, it is imperative to create an effective symbiosis of copy and images to convey trust, integrity and credibility.

The success of large consumer companies’ marketing campaigns hinge on the way consumers perceive colors and the images that make them buy. Think about the images and colors that prompt you to share your demographic info, request information or buy a product when you visit a website. Make sure that the colors and images you select for your own site reinforce your message and stimulate a visitor to reach out to you.

Claudio Pannunzio
i-Impact Group Inc.
Greenwich, Conn.

4 thoughts on “Design Tips for Keeping Visitors on Your Website

  1. I like the basic psychological aspects to consider when designing a website.

  2. The best information on website design and consideration I have read in years. Thanks for a great read, Claudio!

  3. Successful websites can be used a prospecting tool. This post has many good pointers about how to create a connection with prospects visiting your site.

  4. Patrick, Sydney and Suzanne, I’m very grateful for your comments.

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