First impressions are incredibly important. People really do judge a book by its cover, and they’ll judge your website – and by extension your company - on the first page they see, whether consciously or not. Studies suggest that that judgment takes place within five seconds, so it’s down to your website designer to get it right.
We’re going to look at two key areas of website design; anesthetics, and usability, or HCI (Human-Computer Interaction.) The online casino sector has mushroomed in the last decade or so, partly due to good design, so we’ll use a casino site, Gaming Club, as an example of good design.
Artists often talk about the “Golden Ratio”, where proportions of roughly two-thirds to one-third are used in the composition of a painting to produce a pleasing effect. Architects have also used the Ratio throughout history; the Parthenon in Athens is an example. It’s used because it does genuinely seem to produce a harmonious effect, and in website design it’s common. Designers will very often divide a page into thirds both horizontally and vertically, placing text and images within the resulting areas.
It’s not just composition that’s important of course; choosing colours, images and fonts that work well together is a task that’s very easy to get wrong. Have a look at the Gaming Club site. The overall colour scheme – gold and green – is appropriate, reflecting the green of the card tables, and the gold that we associate with winning and money! But the colour choice is also easy on the eye, with no jarring elements.
Once a visitor has been engaged by the anesthetics of your site, the second potential pitfall is the site’s usability. Fantastic design is pointless if they can’t find what they need quickly and easily. The key is making the design original and attractive while not distracting visitors from the task they came to do – e.g. buying something! Keep any blinking and flashing elements to a minimum.
Look again at the example site; the main points of information are the bonus and the free download, with a longish explanation “below the fold”, and clear, clickable areas for specific games above it. There are various HCI “laws” that can be applied to website design, including Miller’s Law, which states that the average person can keep just seven items in their short term memory. The Hick-Hyman Law suggests that minimising the number of choices offered to visitors can be helpful in usability terms.
Finally, it’s always useful to keep an eye on user feedback when you’ve launched your new site. Tweaks and updates can gradually improve the site; think of it as free testing!