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Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 at 9:06 am

Still Think You Can Get Away with Amateur Design?

By Brendan Regan
November 15th, 2010

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Plenty of people have written about how you only have a few seconds to persuade your prospects to stay on your landing page based on your Unique Value Proposition, relevance, and credible/professional design.

But that was predicated on the assumption that the prospect would even GET to your landing page. Now that Google Instant search results are allowing landing page “preview,” those prospects may not even click through, even if your ranking is good and your relevance is great.

Why? Because your amateur design may scare them away. Now prospects have more to compare than just text when they decide whether to click through to you or your competitor.

So, we ask: Do you still think you can delay, defer, or otherwise get away with an amateur or outdated landing page design? Think again.

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Comments (64)

  1. As a web designer, this is good to hear. The preview feature gives well-designed sites an edge over ones that don’t look professional.

  2. It is always good to do the best that you can in all areas. Sometime preaching it is sometimes easier than doing it in my case.

  3. The preview screenshot is one of the best things that google released in last years.

  4. This is actually one of the user interface updates that I like, although users to need to click on the magnifying glass to use this feature, so I wonder how many searchers even know about or will use it.

  5. Amateur Design does not mean that one can’t excel. There are a lot of examples like ezinearticles.com which are doing well even without attractive design. Not to mention on ezinearticles it is even hard to find images. Still they are on top. One very important thing is that if your content is good not design visitors will concentrate more towards your contents or ads. but, if design is excellent it may happen that they could not fix their concentration towards contents or even ads. Less chance that they will come back….and more less chance that they will even click any ads.

  6. I don’t know. It is always good to have a clean website, but on the other hands, we used amateur design websites like wikipedia, ebay or Craigslist for years and we didn’t mind.

  7. I have to agree the screen shot will do wonders for websites in forcing them to think out it.

  8. Instant preview has a lot of potential to prevent and decrease post-click user frustration on amateurish or irrelevant, yet highly SEO-optimized sites. At the same time it increases the pressure on site owners to focus more on design, visual relevancy and actual conversions!

  9. I’m excited about the new Google preview feature and I think you’re absolutely correct in the fact that your landing page better be professional and vibrant in order to obtain the highest click through rates now.

  10. If the Instant Preview feature does take off, it definitely should impact design decisions for websites and provide yet another dimension for search optimization, but this time in actual visual design than structural. I shared some ideas on how one might optimize a website for the Instant Preview in this blog post http://www.inetsolution.com/turnleft/post/Is-Your-Website-Ready-for-the-New-Google-Instant-Preview-Feature.aspx

  11. Have to agree with SEO Monkey. I wonder what percentage of searchers will use this. Good design is always better than bad design regardless.

  12. Good design and a well formatted content will play a huge part on this another Google instant issue. Seeing as having a too complex looking content seen through this preview might drive possible visitors. Cutting paragraphs short is a good start if you can’t have an amateur web design look pro.

  13. I was unknown about the thing said by SEO Monkey. I checked it after reading his comment. I believe good design is a must to attract anybody to visit the page but good content is equally important.

  14. Good design is very importent in my opinion. If the design isn’t good visitors will more likely not visit your page, especially with the new Google Screenshot feature.

  15. I don’t know how much this will affect users unless the website is terrible looking. I think it does show that Google is looking at a lot of factors now tied to user experience instead of just well known ranking factors in the search engines such as links, titles, and anchor text.

  16. @Wheelsets101

    Good design is always better than bad design but if the preview takes quite a while to load up why would you use the preview. I was one of the few who trialed this out before the release and still don’t see the point. If it does take off then it will have an impact page length design. Shorter pages will be viewed at say 100% in the preview while longer pages will be viewed at 70%. Thus making the logo and other elements appear smaller than they would on a shorter page design.

  17. I created a million dollar shoe business with a marginal looking web site and high rankin, and believe that the most beautiful site that nobody can see is still not going to sell anything. Design is important, but you haver to see the site to accept or reject it.

    Peter

  18. i really like this new google feature and i use it often. i think a good design is really important. i stay on poorly designed websites for a few seconds at most.

  19. We’ve been taking this into account when designing new agent websites…

  20. I think screen shots might effect what sites people go to, but will eventually be used less and less. If you type in a keyword you generally want to find out how the website is related. It is only useful for somewhat suspect sites. Most site owners should be ok. I agree with @Parisalmost that we have been going to amateurish sites for years and have not cared about it, why change now.

  21. Amateur is often misunderstood as being imperfect, which really may not be the case. Is my opinion the theme and functionality of a site must reflect the intent. For a forum or blog on technical topics, a minimal design with fast loading and hi functionality is desired. This may be totally inappropriate for a photography site which displays gigh graphics.

  22. It’s all about grabbing the attention of the visitor. Does your site offer a solution to their problem they are searching? I agree to some extent but not others. I like sites that look real. The personal stories and photos that offers soloutions add credibility. Sometimes to slick screams sales.

  23. google make users more and more picky about good looking and functional web design.

  24. Amateur design is sometimes really good. I’ve designed several sites for myself and friends and family. My own money sites do very well. I do have plenty of engineering experience, which helps in the tech side and also lots of art experience which is good for the design aspect.

    Also, some professional website designs I see are not so great.

  25. Content is the King, design is the Queen.

  26. A good website design is very important. . . plus there is now a feature of your landing page “preview”

    website with an attractive design will certainly make us look professional

    It is one important factor in SEO

  27. The preview screenshot is one of the best things that google released in last years.

  28. The message is get your sites text that shows up on the preview to be hot for the clients you want to attract. Mix it up with keywords and seo etc .

  29. Good clean websites are the way forward with easy to find information.

  30. I am actually also concerned about google instant, but I just can not find any researches on how popular it is so that I could know if it is not just a fuss

  31. A major impact will have google instant,i can say that now the design will count a lot

  32. Google Instant seems like all anyone is talking about these days! That said, I think that you’re right – you used to just have to keep people on the page. Now, you need to worry about people viewing the page in preview and choosing not to visit! Yikes!

  33. I think SEO Monkey is right, not everyone’s going to be using the feature. This sort of thing is often trumped up to be a big deal before making little actual difference in the scheme of things.

  34. I’d first like to see a research showing people actually use the preview function and secondly if the influence it has on the ctr.

  35. I agree with you there, but it also depends on what one is searching for, but for me if I see site’s preview with a lot of colors and ads I will hesitate to click as with such design there will be limited info.

  36. This really makes a lot of sense. However it can make the page experience slow down quite a bit, as there is a bit of hesitation while the preview loads.

  37. I am truly impressed at how fast the engine can load the preview of the websites. It is making me a little nervous that it is time for me to grow beyond wordpress and delve back into the word of html, css and notepad!

  38. Nowadays it’s easy for people to mistake ‘simple’ for ‘amateur’ when it comes to design. Just like in the offline world, a simple but elegant design can prove a better communication tool than one with a slew of options or things to look at. your audience & demographics also play a key role in your planning – i.e.: older folks tend to be more easily overwhelmed if your page is too busy/colorful and more often than not, you’ll lose them.

  39. I’ve been using plugins on my browser that does almost the same thing…Well a little better.
    It just put the screenshot next to the search.
    This sure does help a lot deciding on what link to click.

  40. Yes, if designs contain heavy flashes and takes a lot to load then it is useless. We have to make it look simple and attractive. It is my view. No offenses.

  41. This is definitely a good thing. Now spam sites and/or websites with old/bad design will need to change it or they’ll definitely go down in visitors number.

  42. I am still trying to figure out how Google are planning to get this to work well, though. At the moment, the images load with such a delay that it is easier to just click on the website…

  43. I think not everyone will like and use the preview. I, for example, found it very annoying, so I turned it off. I think Google always makes webmaster’s life harder and harder.

  44. There are a lot of sites out there that look like they came straight out of 1997 and it’s scary. Those spinning emails and what not, just horrible!

  45. as a blogger, i have always believe that a clean and refreshing theme will do wonders. as long as the content is interesting and original, there is no worries. but of course, physical is the first thing that readers tend to see. so layout also matters a lot :)

  46. I Think it’s a great tool. Especially after Google corrected the Analytics bug.

    But I agree that most people won’t use the preview option.

  47. I think it’s a great idea but how much it will influence the end users is a unknown. I personally wouldn’t let it influence my opinion as some of the worst looking website offer the best value.

  48. i hope satisfying best costomer is important rather than dsign

  49. @vijaya: So in your aspect, web page design plays no role? But what I feel is, without any attractive look none of us would like to visit such website.

  50. Have you seen drudgereport.com? His design is very amateurish but he is HUGE. I do think design is important, but its not the most important thing.

  51. design has always been important for a website

  52. let’s be honest…anyone who thinks they can get away with poor design is not serious about their business. would you expect to walk into a clothes shop and see clothes scattered over the floor and lying around in a mess? of course not, they’re stored neatly in well laid out areas etc. your website is another means of customers to find your product/service so it should be displayed as best as possible.

  53. I find that it gets in my way! I’m sure it will benefit everyone in the long term.

  54. Design is a key element in the success of a site, but useability is still more important… just look at Craigslist!

    However, for a new site looking to make an impact in a niche, then a great, fresh design is a superb way to get noticed.

  55. Frankly speaking, i don’t like Google’s layout and i might call it amateur as well but it’s the no. 1 site in the world isn’t it. If you are searching something and looking for a specific stuff, you will read no matter how badly that site is designed. Isn’t it?

  56. @Women Magazie – some people might suffer through bad design (and even an altogether terrible site). Typically, only the most methodical buyers search and search for answers to their questions. Some other types of buyers are going to be put off right away by the lack of credibility that poor site design connotes. However, being super trendy on the design side of thing does you no good if your site doesn’t function well and provide the content your visitors are looking for in a way that makes it feel natural for them (and account for different strokes for different folks too).

  57. I think established websites can get away with a poorly designed page but if you have a new site that your trying to grow then you better have a design that is aesthetically pleasing

  58. I do suffer because of amateur design but its not like i can do any better with blogspot. When i was starting i started from scratches, i didnt know anything about online marketing or seo. And now that i rank well for several of my keywords im too afraid to get a professional template and self hosting site and lose all my rankings.

  59. Another way to look at this issue is to consider how much value you are bringing to the table. The more valuable your content or services are, the less of an impact your design will have. Of course, even if you have a winning concept, you might as well give it an even better chance at success by giving design a decent amount of focus.

  60. When running websites, the most important fact is how valuable you are making your content to the reader. Fact is, the more value you give to the reader, the more success you’re going to have and more popularity. I always make it a priority to provide value first over anything else.

  61. The visual appearance is important for web sites, it is still the first contact with your site.

  62. Great info. It is totally true, if people don’t respect your landing page, they aren’t going to respect your business. Thanks for the post.

  63. Just saw this post and thought I would share some of my experiences with this topic. As a front end web developer I tend to use the preview tool to see which websites have a good build. Fortunately I have to say I am still in my job because there a millions of websites that are out of date and need an update. This tool is great for web designers who want to get ideas and copy or steal ideas from competitors.

  64. Do you offer any tips or links on how someone can optimize their design with out spending tons of money? Layouts etc… What should a beginning blogger do?

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