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  1. Ryan

    Hi Peep

    Awesome article. I think the difficult part, is managing the perceptions of users. ie. how do we know what they are thinking – the brand can be embedded in their mind, but they might not buy until 4 months later.. however the impression is still there and usually won’t be erased from memory.. so imperative to set the benchmark from the outset to manage that perception that best you can.

  2. Mario Hernandez

    I loved this post and I think it’s great information to use when starting a new design or revamp of your website.
    One thing that got my attention was the “Above the fold” part. With mobile devices dominating the internet traffic nowadays, how relevant “above the fold” is when the canvas in mobile devices is so limited? Just wondering how this issue can be addressed on mobile devices.

    Great job and thank you for this info.

  3. Matt Langan

    Peep, I truly loved this post because of the research you used to support your claim (which I couldn’t agree more with). Thanks for continually pumping out quality content. It doesn’t go unnoticed!

  4. Supriya

    Great article supported by research studies. Thank you Peep!

  5. fritz

    Great post I’ll apply this to my new blog ..thanks for sharing

  6. Naomi

    Hi guys, I loved this. We always struggle with a budget for design. I would love your feedback on my site! Please let me know what you think and how our sites design can be improved. Would love to know.


    1. Peep Laja Peep Laja

      Hey Naomi

      Thanks. It looks average – it doesn’t stand out, but also doesn’t hurt the eye.

  7. awesome post peep….
    how i do not compltely agree with the idea of sto innovating and follow what is already there and proven..
    anyways.. great article with great research.. as always…

    1. Peep Laja Peep Laja

      It’s not about stopping innovation – but not taking it too far at the time (e.g. completely changing the idea of how something works)

  8. Paige C. Willey

    Powerful stuff. I especially like that you backed it up with research from both the industry and the outside the industry. I know from personal experience that visual design and usability are huge for a site. I used to work in the publishing industry and, up until recently, an online literary magazine had a site that looked like it belonged in 1997. They discovered that people who had been in the industry for a long time or were very well connected were the ones submitting to the magazine, but fresh new talent wasn’t interested. That changed once they update their site. For brands that have been around for awhile, only loyal customers will overlook serious design flaws. A great site is essential to gaining and keeping new customers.

    I’m currently going through several redesigns for clients and building a few new sites myself. Big thanks for the key takeaways and those important 6 elements.

  9. Its really annoying that every time I come here and scroll down, signup form pops up. Im already subscribed.

    1. Peep Laja Peep Laja

      Sorry to hear that. As I mentioned above, Tthe box is shown 3 times max to a visitor (cookie based tracking). It won’t work if you switch browsers, use incognito mode or delete cookies.

  10. Josh Ledgard

    This was a great read. I’ve gone ahead and shared it with our customers at KickoffLabs (who are building their landing pages).

    We’ve got some data on our platforms landing pages that may help back this up for you as well if you’re interested.

    Josh Ledgard
    Founder – (Landing Pages for Everyone!)

  11. Steve Wasiura @waztech

    I would also assume this has a lot to do with the visitor’s purpose when arriving on a page. it seems the study results come from having test participants look at websites without any real goal to accomplish, other than completing the test results.

    For example, when I recvd your email newsletter with the link to this page, I went to the page to read about this particular topic, thinking “i could have a great website and be rich & handsome if i knew this secret of the importance of great visual design”. LOL. i had a goal to accomplish.

    my initial focus was drawn to the large photo of the sports car. i heard the voice in my head saying “ok, nice looking sports car = nice design, this matches the description of the topic, i must be in the right place.” i am here to achieve my goal of reading about this topic. i can continue, rather than close the tab. that could indicate the power of great visual design. my initial impression (17ms) confirmed i was heading toward “accomplishin’ ma goal”. just as the study confirmed, the use of appropriate images is good.

    then i quickly scanned the article to see how long it was, to determine if i felt i had the time to read it. i was dismayed at it’s length, and immediately thought, no it’s too long, i don’t have time to read all this. then my next thought was to print it, to read it later. then i thought, no i don’t want to use / waste paper. i better try to read it.

    then i skipped to the comments to see if there was social proof. did other readers think this was worth the read, or was it crap? kind of like amazon product ratings. a quick scan told me they thought it was good reading.

    next i discovered the section about 17ms, then looking at a logo for 6 seconds. this caused my brain to have a conflict, which i had to stop and re-read again. WAIT! if a site’s importance is determined in 17-50 ms, how and why would a user spend 6 seconds starring at the LOGO? i don’t know if this puzzle was written on purpose to get me to stop and read more of the content and even make a comment, but if it was, then it worked. here i am writing a long comment :)

    so the point i’m trying to make is “i came to the site with a goal of reading this content, to find out how to improve a website’s impact by having a great design.” but compared to the article, i did not spend any time looking at the other areas of the website. no logo, no top nav menu, no side areas, etc. i was laser focused on achieving my goal. the only design i cared about was the image at the start of the article, which confirmed i was in the right place. i would probably like this webpage if it was just a plain page with the top article image and a narrow enough body text column to keep my eyes from getting fatigued from too much horizontal scrolling.

    now i may be the only one who looks at a website this way. i don’t know. i’m wondering if the additional visual design attributes discussed within the article only apply to people who look at a website without any primary goal to accomplish, as if they are “just looking aka window shopping”, and they decide the website looks trustworthy enough to come in and consume the content offerings? or maybe my brain processed the other design elements subconsciously, and added to the feeling that I was in the right place. it would be neat if we could also measure brainwaves in addition to eye studies.

    if you have comments about this i’d like to read them.

    btw, i was also annoyed that as i scrolled down, an ad zoomed in trying to get me to signup for the newsletter. “i am already signed up!” i said out loud and clicked the close button. funny and disturbing at the same time. wish the site used a cookie to determine that i was already subscribed.

    1. Peep Laja Peep Laja

      Hey Steve.

      Thanks for the thorough comment. I hear you – definitely user intent matters a lot.
      You can’t really make conclusions about the world based on yourself (you are not your customer), but you do make a valid point.

      The layout of the page and the content matter a lot. You didn’t pay attention to the logo and stuff since you knew it’s an article – you focused in on the content.

      (And long, thorough posts is how I roll).

      As for the scroll triggered box – there is a cookie in place. The box is shown 3 times max. Obviously it won’t work if you switch browsers, use incognito mode or delete cookies.

  12. Aditya

    Hey Peep,

    New here. Loved this post to the core. In fact I never spent a penny on design because I know enough CSS and have a good knowledge of designing logos in photoshop. So when I tried my hand, it turned out pretty good and I’m getting positive responses to my blog’s design. The examples you provided here are super super super awesome! Mine is a little blog with a simple design and I’m happy with it. Plus I’m also using a neatly self designed scroll triggered box that I came to know after reading your “ConversionXl is 1 year old” post. It’s converting great!

    You’re awesome! Thanks again :)


  13. Michael Yardney

    Thanks – great post

    A few months ago we redesigned our site at, using what we thought was best practice. The more visually appealing site has made a huge difference in conversion of first time visitors to subscribers. You are right. It’s worth spending the time effort and money

  14. Loz James

    Hi Peep

    This is my favourite one of your posts so far – great research and insight. As a copywriter I always knew that words have their place when pitted against the instant impact of design – but to discover people spend less than 6 seconds evaluating content is just mindblowing. Owch!

    Obviously, this doesn’t mean we should write gibberish, but I’d love to see some research on what happens after a reader decides they like the look of your site – how does this then feed into the attention they give your content going forward?

    It really is a stark fact that there might be some genius level writers out there who could blow our minds with their content – but whose work never really gains any traction because it’s published on a crappy looking site. (This is almost like that ‘beautiful people are more successful’ research:

    It seems online as in print – readers always judge a book by its cover. But I’d love to know the correlation between this surface ‘superficiality’ and the connection readers then go on to have with the content published subsequent to these first impressions. For example, do readers think your words are more insightful if you publish them on a stunning blog (even though they aren’t in reality?).

    All interesting stuff to feed into the marketing mix.

    Good work mate!


    1. Peep Laja Peep Laja

      Thanks Loz.

      Ultimately it’s about conversions – whatever the desired action might be. It’s easy to measure the impact of great design on sales conversions. In most cases it’s positive.

  15. Shane

    Hi Peep,

    Awesome post! I’ll come back to this when we do our planned site redesign.

    I’d love to learn more from you on this topic, specifically about how you’d actually go about getting a highly effective design done and how you’d test site design.

    1. I’ll second that. I’d love to read a post about getting a highly effective design done, and where/how you find people who deliver on this front.

  16. Pavel

    What do you thing about visually appealing splash screens before the main page pops up? I don’t like it but maybe it can work.

    1. Peep Laja Peep Laja

      “I don’t like” it is irrelevant. Test it – that’s the only way to find out.

      Pay attention to 2 measures: bounce rate and subscription rate.


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First Impressions Matter: The Importance of Great Visual Design