Visitors make a decision in less than 5 seconds when they see your site. Either they are interested and stay or leave.
When you get a website for your business you may want to sell your product or service, because that is why you spent your money.
You would probably like to get clients without much work; in essence that may be one of the main functions of your site. However, sometimes is not so nice when someone tries to sell you a product without even knowing you.
Nowadays we are subjected to be sold anything at anytime. The advertising industry is rising, because it has many ways to get access to any user.
For instance, on facebook we are constantly seeing advertisements (if you didn’t know already!). And the same goes for youtube, google, television, or in the streets.
There is so much information we receive at anytime that the subconscious mind develops skills to ignore ads. That is why massive publicity, and cold calls are less effective than before.
These skills also take part in people who visit your site.
The longer you take to convince and develop trust, the higher probability of an user leaving your website.
The 700 pixel rule refers to the space that your computer screen takes without scrolling down (even though it is probably more than 700 pixels! I just like how it sounds).
On that first screen what you can usually find is the logo, menu, maybe an image and some text. This usually determines how someone is going to feel when they keep reading your site.
It is the first impression you give to an user. Remember, “you only have one chance to make a first impression”.
If you try to sell a product just as someone arrives to your website without even knowing you… What is the impression someone is going to get from your business?
Those 700 pixels will affect if someone stays on your site or not. The power of your website diminishes if your first screen is not convincing.
It is like a book cover...
Even with the popular saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, being honest, I believe some of us still judge books by their covers.
And it is pretty logical since the market is full of options. So many websites, blogs, and youtube videos… that we have developed a skill to make fast choices based on an image and its title. If it seems cool we click, otherwise pass.
With articles and websites works the same way. If your cover is not convincing 80% of people won’t read what’s next.
What are the key elements for your cover and how to convince people to stay on your site?
In this section I will talk about practices I believe are best. You know, different strokes for different folks, and mine is quite particular. Therefore, I invite you to take what may sound interesting for you.
The logo most of the time is not as important as it seems.
Sometimes people give a lot of thought to the logo when they are just a simple technique to remember the brand.
Of course that a nice logo will create a higher impact. However, people don’t buy just because of the logo.
Sometimes a name with good typography may do the job just well.
Sometimes there is an impulse to try to put just about EVERYTHING on the menu. What you do, who are you, free resources, media appearances, socials, languages, contact, home button, your dog’s story, your cat’s name, and what are your favourite books...
Look, it’s really cool that you want to show how good you are, how much you know, and the hundreds of services you can offer. Though, this is counterproductive on the menu because it will get people lost.
For menus I advise you to follow ‘grandpa’s recipe’. It consists in thinking as if you were your grandparent and you have no idea about how to use a computer. The simpler the better.
For instance, if your grandpa sees a menu with lots of words, tabs, services and so on... he may get lost with these buttons and dropdowns. He may even get stressed about it!!
On the other hand, if you just use a 3 word menu: “about me, services, contact”, when your grandpa enters your site will only have 3 very clear options without complications.
If he wants to know who you are he will go to the about page. There you can share your dog’s story and your cat’s name. If he wants to know your services he checks them out, and so on and so forth.
Remember, on the menu: less is more!
3. Main image
Overall is common to find a cover image and depending on your business it is a good choice or not.
On the technical side you should optimize your images. When an image takes a lot of space it will slow down the page, which is ‘no bueno’.
On the emotional side, which is very subjective, you choose an image that develops trust and reflects your core values.
One advice: try to avoid sliders! These usually take up lots of space and will slow down your page.
Imagine that you are reading a book, and in the middle of a sentence someone comes and skips the page; that’s not nice, is it?.
With sliders the same thing can happen. If it happened to me I would close the page straight up. When you are reading something on a slider and it suddenly changes to me it’s about the same feeling.
4. Social networks
Having your socials on top of the page is a double-edged sword depending on your goals.
If what you want is people to follow you on your social media, then it may be a viable option.
On the other hand, if you want people to look through your site, to contact you, read your services, or your about page, then having your socials on top is a risky move because it deviates attention.
Website’s goals are often to catch users attention, so they keep reading and spend some time on the site.
If an user goes to your socials it is likely that he will end up loosing interest and leaving your site.
That’s why I rather put them at the bottom. With that move you make sure that at least the user has taken a quick look through your website before getting to the bottom.
There are even some experts that recommend not having socials on your site at all, because of what I was saying before of not leaving the web.
Some values to keep in mind on the 700 pixel rule:
Don’t try to clutter up information in little spaces. Pages with lots of text, images, pop-ups, banners, etc., may be overwhelming. One can get lost with all the stuff and end up leaving.
Here’s my advice: keep it simple.
Short sentences, cool images, easy menus… Overall, a first screen that in little time anyone could be clear on what you do, who’s your target, what problems you solve, or what value you give to the world with your work.
Clear and simple.
Later you will have the opportunity to explain in detail what is your business about.
2. Don’t sell to me yet!
The purpose of some websites is in some way to sell more of whatever they’re selling. Best thing would be that all people bought your thing through the site without much work, though in reality is a bit harder than it seems.
You should watch out with selling and promoting especially in the beginning because it can cause rejection.
If I don’t know you, then don’t try selling to me yet. It is like someone that you’ve never heard of before cold calls you and tries selling something to you.
There will be plenty of opportunities to sell throughout your site. On your cover may not be the best place and time to do it.
3. Build trust
With one sentence and image someone may inspire trust and closeness. For that, you just have to be honest and truthful.
Talk about what you do, who you target, how you solve problems, how you create value, what’s your mission, or whatever your heart tells you.
This small introduction is a great chance to inspire trust and generate interest.
4. Play with curiosity
Another technique that some people are naturally good at is to play with people’s curiosity. There is no need to say everything at the beginning.
Sometimes giving some hints, creating some mystery, and leaves someone wanting for more.
It is a great tactic to keep people’s attention so their keep reading your site.
5. First sentence is the most important of your whole website!
In it you should try to say as much as you can with as few words as possible. Tough challenge I know.
If anyone is going to read something on your site almost certainly will be the first sentence.
With it you’ve got the opportunity to develop a connection with the reader. Therefore, it is wise to invest a good amount of time creating this sentence.
I must say that this post is inspired in Joan Boluda's teachings. Someone who has helped me a great deal with his work and spanish courses.
Thanks for your attention and I hope that the ideas were useful.