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Sometimes Seeing is Disbelieving

This might make me sound shallow, but it takes me just a second to decide whether I'll buy from a Web site. My complicated explanation for this is that I'm sensitive to site design and I'm quick to evaluate user interfaces and visual balance; my simple explanation is that I don't trust ugly sites. They might offer good information and strong products, but if sites look amateurish or sloppy to me, I don't feel comfortable giving them my credit card.

And I'm not the only one--B.J. Fogg, director of the Stanford University Pervasive Technology Lab, was disappointed to discover from a recent research project that most Internet users think like me:
"The number one factor by which people actually judge Web site credibility was by their first impression of the visual design...if it doesn't look credible or it doesn't look like what they expect it to be, they go elsewhere. It doesn't get a second test. And it's not so different from other things in life. It's the way we judge automobiles and politicians."
I strongly recommend this article on Stanford's Web Credibility Project, which talks more about how to earn the trust of users like me. I'd also recommend checking out the sites of your closest competitors, and trying to find ways to make a more professional first impression than they do. If your site looks better than theirs, you just might get my business.

Jennifer Frost is Art Director at Register.com.

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