Anyone who has ever had a job interview will tell you about the importance of making a good first impression. Those first few seconds of looking into a potential employer’s eyes can be terrifying but you don’t want them to know that.

The same thing can happen when coming face-to-face with a new customer. Will they like you? Will they buy something from you? You want to make sure they see what they want.

Unfortunately, when conducting business online, you don’t get to dress up in a snappy suit and shake customers’ hands the way you would in the real world. You have to convince them that you’re a professional, that they should take you seriously and that they can trust you all through digital means.

Usually, this takes the form of a truly magnificent website. If you have one.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the appearance of your website when it comes to converting casual viewers into buyers. We have a few tips for you about how to make a great online first impression.

Tip #1: Abide by the seven-second rule
The saying goes it takes only seven seconds to make a first impression. If that’s true for people, then one could argue it takes even less time to make a decision about everything else.

This is why it’s so vital for your website to follow the seven-second rule. This rule essentially says you want your customers to be able to completely figure out the purpose of your website (and how to navigate it) within the first seven seconds of clicking on the site. This will ensure they won’t click away or get confused and leave.

People don’t like not understanding what they’re supposed to do and they’re not going to invest their valuable time in figuring out your website when they can just go to the next one.

Tip #2: Be consistent
This has to do with your theme, layout, colors, design, everything. When choosing a feature for your website, keep it consistent throughout to give your pages a homogenous feel. If your website is neon green on its homepage and has a strobe light on another, then you have a problem.

You need to decide what’s best for your brand (hint: it’s not strobe lights) and then you need to continue using it and not change your mind two pages over. This includes colors, font style, headers, images, and basic layout.

Consistency is important because it helps people feel comfortable as they navigate your page and it’s a constant reminder that this is your site and they haven’t accidentally wandered away to somewhere else.

Tip #3: Use images
People love images. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words and that can’t be stressed enough.

Don’t fill your website with wall to wall text, it’s intimidating and looks sloppy. Instead, make sure you have plenty of images to balance out the information.

Use your pictures to show the personality of your brand and make your visitors feel welcome on your site. If you’re selling water slides, then have a bunch of pictures with kids playing in the water and enjoying your product. If you’re selling travel packages, then have pictures showing all of the amazing places people can go to.

You want to draw your audience into your site and pictures and images are a great, fun way of doing that.

Tip #4: Pay attention to your color themes
This goes along with the previous tip, but is a little more focused. The color palate of your website represents your entire brand, so you want it to look good and match throughout your website (see tip #2 re consistency). Use your brand colors to bring familiarity and professionalism into your site, which also helps the website look like the extension of your business that it is.

Use three main colors and then, if you must branch out, only use shades of those same colors. Make sure your colors are either complementing each other or contrasting each other, never both at the same time.

Your customers will judge the way your website is dressed in the same way they will judge a stranger for what they are wearing. Make sure you’re proud of the message you’re sending.

Tip #5: Ensure readability
This can be more difficult than you might think. Did you know that underlining text actually makes them more difficult to read, not easier? If you want to add emphasis to something on your site, use italics or bold, don’t underline, and definitely don’t underline large blocks of text. In addition, use a simple font that doesn’t strain the eyes and is big enough to be seen and read easily.

Your customers might not know what is making your content difficult to read, but they also won’t stick around long enough to find out.

Most of your customers will only skim what you’ve written, so be sure the most important points are emphasized in some way in order to draw the eye.

Your website’s first impression on your customers is just as important as their impression of you. Take the time to really make your website look good so that people who stumble across it will be impressed enough to stick around.

On average, it only takes about seven seconds for someone to decide whether or not they’re going to stay on a new site, so take advantage of those precious moments! Grab your viewers’ attention and hold them captivated until they’re ready to decide if they want to buy.

Your website can be an excellent advocate for your brand, and you don’t want to miss out on that opportunity.