Psychology of Web Design: What Consumers Notice First

Just as every website looks different, each user viewing a website is observing it in their own unique way. Did you know, the vast majority of users skim website pages without even reading the content? How then can you capture their high-speed attention and convert the ‘skimming visitor’ into a loyal customer? For starters, it can help to understand the different types of search patterns and user personalities entering your site. From here, you can then begin to consider best-practices in website design for maximum conversions.

3 Types of Search Patterns

By understanding what visitors are searching for, you can determine what people notice first on a website based upon their innate searching behaviors.

User search habits typically fall into three categories:

  1. Information Seeking – These users have a more general idea in mind of what they are looking for and are willing to read more content to find specific answers.
  2. Next Step Focused – These users want to move through pages quickly; they will focus mainly on calls to action as well as getting to the next desired page.
  3. Purchasing Ready – These users know exactly what they want and will use whatever means necessary on the site to find the sought after website page; their desire for functional navigation is unparalleled.
Psychology of Web Design: What Consumers Notice First

Nearly every user searching the web will fall into a combination of the above three search habits based upon where they are in the buying process.

Despite this fluidity between different search patterns, visitors typically operate with only one search personality, so it’s very important to understand these as well.

4 Types of Search Personalities

The best way to display information for users searching a website falls into a mixture of four psychological search personalities. These unique behaviors provide insight into how to better maximize conversions based upon how users are looking at a website and what they notice first.

  1. Value Oriented – Looking for a company’s value proposition and proof of credibility; they want to know why they should choose that company.
    -These users notice keywords, stick to the top of the page, and skim a lot.
  2. Spontaneous – Fast paced user who wants information and transactions to be done quickly.
    -These users notice calls to action, site navigation, as well as best sellers.
  3. Relational – Led more by emotions and relationships; influenced strongly by a company’s ‘online personality’ and their displayed pictures.
    -These users like a clear and consistent company brand that falls in line with their own values; they also like the “sort by” function to filter the products or information they are seeing.
  4. Logical – Slow paced user who wants evidence and lots of details before making a decision.
    -These users will be reading content on products and services as well as reviews.

Considering that a typical vistor will fall into one of the above categories, it’s ideal that you include at least one item for each personality if you truly want to maximize opportunity with overall conversion rate strategy.

Patterns & Personalities Aside, Let’s Talk about Best Practices in Design

Concise and Well-Placed Content

High quality pictures grab attention. A picture of a person facing the viewer is considered inviting and welcoming. Focus on the direction that the eyes are looking in the picture: where the eyes look tend to be where site visitors look next after viewing the picture.

Psychology of Web Design: What Consumers Notice First

Always put relevant information at the top. You only have a few seconds to capture a user’s attention, so make sure to include exactly what they are searching for – especially keywords.

Another point to consider is that users tend to view websites in an F-shaped pattern. This means they focus their attention on the top left corner and move their eyes down from there.  When deciding on the layout for a website, consider predominantly left aligned content and try not to center or right align text since that is typically not where users tend to focus (though there are certainly unique cases to this).

Choose Your Colors Wisely

The psychology of website colors is a fun topic and one that could probably stand alone as its very own blog post; in this case, however, I’ll try to be brief.

Users can be influenced by a website’s color scheme whether they are aware of it or not. There have been numerous physiological studies on the influence of colors, including how changing the color of call to action buttons can increase a site’s overall conversion rate. When deciding a website’s color scheme, always consider consistency and ease of readability as the two overriding primary objectives. Additionally, A/B testing colors can be an incredibly useful tool for determining which colors will increase conversions for your specific website.

Curious as to the emotions typically felt by users when looking at colors? Check out this color pyramid below:

Psychology of Web Design: What Consumers Notice First

Recap

In short, website visitors notice different things based upon their searching patterns and personalities. Keep these patterns and behaviors in mind when designing your website; particularly in regards to pictures, color schemes, keywords, and content. Since most users skim, visitors will notice headers, bullet points, site navigation and bold text. However, make sure to focus on what your target market is searching for or there’s a good chance that they’ll take their traffic elsewhere.

Need some help with your own website’s design and layout? Contact Groove Commerce today for all of your site design needs.

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Amy Knudtson
Amy is a 2012 graduate of Babson College where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. Belonging to the Groove Family since late 2012, Amy aids in quality control and risk management to provide superior sites to clients. When not in the office, Amy is out snowboarding or watching a movie for the fifth time.
Amy Knudtson

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