Research by Google found that people are far more likely to remain on a website when the design is familiar and easily understood:
We know the first impression a website’s design creates is crucial in capturing users’ interest. In less than 50 milliseconds, users build an initial “gut feeling” that helps them decide whether they’ll stay or leave. This first impression depends on many factors: structure, colors, spacing, symmetry, amount of text, fonts, and more.
In our study we investigated how users’ first impressions of websites are influenced by two design factors:
- Visual complexity — how complex the visual design of a website looks
- Prototypicality — how representative a design looks for a certain category of websites
This fits with broader observations about the way we interact with the world. As John Sills notes in a recent post:
The importance of creating certainty can be seen in customer experiences, big and small, across every industry, every day:
- We’re comfortable when the ‘next train’ timing board is working, and enter a state of mild panic when it goes blank, even though the train might still be two minutes away;
- We can’t relax on holiday until the bags are collected and we’re safely checked-in to the hotel, just in case something’s gone wrong with the booking;
- We go back to the same hairdresser time after time, because we know what they’ve done before (and they ‘know our hair’, whatever that means);
- We use Uber because it shows where the car is on a map, so we know whether the taxi really is ‘just around the corner’;
- We’re nervous the first time we go on a rollercoaster, not knowing what to expect, and then more excited the next time, having replaced some of that imagination with knowledge.
So companies looking to provide a great customer experience need to find those potential points of uncertainty – those moments where doubt or worry may exist, where customers are experiencing something new, or don’t have knowledge of what’s going to happen next – and then communicate clearly, in what they say and what they do, freeing up their customers’ imaginations to replace any worry with excitement about what’s to come.