At brandiD, there’s one part of our creative process that turns us all into little kids on Christmas morning: when we see the design of a client’s new homepage.
Up until that point, we’ve been heads down, working hard on our client’s branding and business strategy, then crafting copy that will most effectively communicate their business’s value on each page of their site.
But when that initial homepage design is revealed, the mood shifts from strategic to downright giddy. With wide-eyed excitement come our avalanche of comments:
“I LOOOOOOOVE IT!”
“Holy moly, that looks amazing!!”
“That design represents the client’s business perfectly! Ahhhh, it’s so beautiful!”
The homepage design is the point in our process when we start to see all the pieces coming together, and it is so rewarding (and fun!).
But we’re also excited for our client, because we know that the prospective customers that land on their website are going to have a very similar experience to the one our team has had—that “Woah, that looks GOOD” experience.
By creating that type of experience, we know we’re setting our client up to make a fantastic first impression. And as you most likely know, that first impression is oh, so important.
But did you know that, online, your time to make a great first impression is lightning fast?
It’s true. According to studies that were conducted to see how quickly people formed opinions on the visual appeal of web pages, you have as little as 50 milliseconds!
Yep, that’s milliseconds. Or 0.5 of a second, a snap of the fingers at best.
So, to capitalize on this “blink of the eye” amount of time, your website needs to look great.
In other words, your visual branding needs to be on point. Your visual branding elements include images, fonts, colors, and the layout of your site.
When all you have are milliseconds, your visual branding is everything at first glance.
Yes, your message and copy matter, too, but when studies show that people form opinions in as little as 50 milliseconds, their brains can only process so much in that short span of time. There’s no time to read (unless you have a very short, crystal-clear headline)—there’s only time to LOOK.
So, how do you make sure your visual branding is as amazing and on brand as it can be?
We spoke with brandiD designer Veronica Gonzalez, the one who creates those homepage designs our team—and our clients—love so much, to share some of her design insight and tips with you. Check it out!
Why is it important for businesses to focus on their visual branding?
Your visual branding elements are a reflection of your brand and how seriously you take your business, so it’s crucial you have something that’s visually pleasing, clear, organized, and makes people want to see more. When a person finds your website online, they don’t have the opportunity to talk to you right away, so your website needs to do the talking for you. Having good design and high-quality visual branding sends that first message about who you are and what your business is about. Put out a great first message, and people stick around. Put out a bad one, and people will move on quickly.
Let’s talk about four elements of good design that business owners should pay attention to: images, fonts, colors, and layout. Starting with images, what are some things to keep in mind when it comes to the photos you use on your site?
If you really want to come across as a professional, you should have professional photos taken. You may have photos from your phone that you really like, but there’s such a clear difference when the photos are professionally done. A good thing to ask yourself when considering photos to use is, “If I was a potential client of mine, what would I think?”
Also, be sure that the photos your using show yourself and your business the way you want it to be represented. If your business is cutting-edge, are your photos sending out that vibe? If your business is warm and approachable, make sure you look that way in your photos, too. Put some time and effort into the images you select for your site, because without you physically there to prove them otherwise, they only have their perceptions to go on. Make sure they’re the right ones.
Moving on to fonts. How can fonts impact your visual branding?
Fonts are sometimes overlooked, or people are quick to use the standard fonts they see used all the time or that they’re comfortable using themselves. But fonts have the power to really bring out your personality. For example, using Times New Roman can bring out the more traditional or scholarly side of you, while Helvetica can be used to portray a modern or fresh approach.
Picking the right fonts for your website is definitely an area where a professional’s input can be very helpful. They can make the selection process way more efficient and can show you how to mix fonts to get the ones that are just right for your site and the vibe you want to communicate with your business. You want to make sure you’re conveying exactly what you want to convey, and the right fonts actually have a huge part in that.
What about colors?
When you’re talking about making first impressions, color has a huge impact on whether those are appealing or not, depending on what shades, tones, and combinations you use. Color also makes a powerful statement about who you are and what your business is about—so if you want to make a bold statement, don’t be afraid to go bold with your colors and vice versa. (Again, having a professional’s input may be helpful here.)
Color also works to reflect certain moods. You can follow the standard guidelines on that as-is, but it’s better to play around a bit and get creative, because color and mood can be great ways to differentiate yourself. And at the end of the day, that’s what we should all be aiming to do online anyways.
Last but not least, talk to us about layout. Why is layout important to your visual branding?
Good layout serves a huge purpose in your visual branding—it’s job is to keep people engaged with your site and scrolling down the page, then click further into your site. It has to have a flow and keep the eye interested. Layouts that are effective help to break up text and highlight the important messages in the copy, as well as showcase the images so that they support the content.
The layout of your site has a lot to do with the way people perceive you, too. A disorganized or cluttered layout can portray a business that may (or may not be) disorganized. Likewise, a clean, clear layout can go a long way in establishing authority and trust. There are so many different layout options available to choose from or create yourself, so take your time to find the one that best works with the design elements and copy you have.
And there you have it!
When you treat your visual branding as the crucial element that it is, you’re setting yourself up to make an awesome first impression with your site.
Do it well, and that 50 millisecond rule won’t be intimidating—it’ll be all the time a new visitor needs to decide they want to stick around your site and learn more about you and your business.
About The Author
Veronica Gonzalez loves taking ideas and applying them on paper. In college, she decided to pursue a degree in web design and interactive media, and during that time, fell in love with the art of designing with a purpose. Working with The brandiD, she gets to put skill and imagination to work everyday, in order to create unique designs that will delight the client and their users. Find out more!