Striking the First Impression in Web Design

Striking the First Impression in Web Design

When it comes to web design, there are many different aspects that must be looked at and polished before a client is truly happy. In most cases, and not unlike many other jobs out there, most of these elements usually go under-looked and unnoticed. This being the case, good designers still put in the time and effort because they understand that the little things can make a huge difference. The little things create good first impressions.

I find this to be a fascinating topic – one that allows me to understand how the idea of design is better perceived by individuals.

Is design simply just a structure for code? Or is it the code that complements the design?

I believe that this depends on the individual, but whatever you may think about design, the truth is that first impressions are very important.

Striking the First Impression in Web Design

First Impressions

Personally, I believe that first impressions are probably one of the most important aspects in web design. Being able to achieve a good first impression can go a really long way if you are able to follow up with good content and a unique approach. It is a sort of gateway – a strong introduction if you will.

When you walk in for a job interview, it is normal to be judged. Employers judge us by the way we dress, the way we fix our hair, the things we say, and most importantly by our body language.

Now, regardless of how good of a candidate you are… it is more likely that those who seem to be the best candidates (best dressed, etc) are the ones who will get the job. Whether or not they are the ones who will perform best is a different story.

A good first impression in web design is similar to this. A nicely designed website – one that is attractive and well structured is the one that will gather more interest from viewers. Whether or not the website is any good is a different story.

Paolo Cavanna

Is It Enough?

No, of course not. I don’t think that a good first impression is enough – quite far from that actually. A good first impression should be made only to introduce your website in a friendly and approachable way… and as such, is not the cause for repeat views.


A good first impression will only make sure that once people actually come across your website, they will stop and take a second to go through your content. Obviously, it is up to you to create great content with catchy titles and witty puns to guarantee a return.

In the real world, it’s kind of like the pretty stereotypical blonde that everyone wants to date, but once they do – they realize that their inability to partake in a conversation with her due to her materialistic mind and lack of knowledge is a complete turn off – and thus, no return views.

In this case, the young lady’s pretty face is the good first impression; her lack of knowledge is the bad content. Now, if things were different and she was in fact interesting as well as pretty, then things will be different. A good first impression + great content = return views!

A Good First Impression

I think that in order to create a good first impression, a website needs to be a lot more than just a pretty looking site. Good design is fine, but it is not enough. Here are my two cents on what can be added to make sure your site is noticed before all else!

A Little Bit of Character

Character character character – this one is important. It’s the reason why we can relate to the movies we watch and the songs we listen to. It’s what makes us who we are. Unique. Individual. It’s the human touch – it’s all about human emotion. It’s simple.

In its most basic form, adding your own character to a website will allow for first timers to relate to you. Everybody wants to relate, and by making your site personal and adding a bit of who you are to the mix, viewers get to feel a bit of you in themselves.

Austin Design Guy

This can be done by the way you write, colors used, the typography… just as long as you are true to yourself and are bringing your own style and touch to the tables, then this should be fine.

It is always fun and interesting trying to imitate the design of other popular sites and blogs, but I don’t see this as an ideal way to do things. Be yourself, it will allow others to relate.

Just Scan It

On doing research for this article, I came across a great read by Annabel Candy on ‘Copy Blogger’ about a similar topic. One of the main points that stood out to me was how she mentioned that it is best to create a site design that is easy to scan.

This includes, but is not limited to – headlines, first paragraph reads, page tabs, catchy titles, profile photos, etc.


It is normal for viewers to spend no longer than a couple of seconds on your site before they move on, so make sure that you can give them everything they need to know within that time frame! This includes who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

Take advantage of this, it will make a huge difference!


Here are a few sites and blogs I discovered and have become a fan of simply from a good first impression.

Pugly Pixel
I love Pugly Pixel. It’s simple and clean design allows for a strong focus on content. It is definitely one of those rare sites that captured my interest instantly.

Pugly Pixel

Creature Comforts
Creature Comforts was designed with pretty in mind. It boasts a lot of character and is very pleasant to look at.

Creature Comforts

The Fox is Black
I’ve only recently come across this blog, but what stood out the most to me is how good the blog posts look. A perfect combination of photos and text.

The Fox is Black

Hype Beast
I love their recent redesign. It is current, modern, minimalistic, and very clean. It is definitely easy on the eyes and gives off a great first impression.

Hype Beast

Simple but effective – powerful and to the point. Devour proves to the world that good design need not be complicated.


David Bushell
I really enjoy David’s use of white space and typography. I especially enjoy the look of his articles under the ‘blog’ tab.

David Bushell

Jonathan Moore
I’m a big fan of Jonathan Moore and appreciate his design work very much. I love his style and must admit that his tumblr is probably one of the best looking tumblrs I have ever seen.

Jonathan Moore

One of my favorite blogs – Mashable is modern, clean and professional. A great combination for a good first impression.



In a nutshell, first impressions are important. We live in a fast moving world where millions of web pages surface daily… it’s hard to get noticed. But the good thing is that not everyone is a designer. Not everyone knows the importance of a good first impression. And most importantly, not everyone has character.

In life, it is often the little things that make a big difference… the details in the fabric – and this is one of them. First impressions are important.

Feel free to leave your comments below – it is always interesting to hear what others have to say about this.

Karim Boubker makes videos, takes photos, enjoys business, and loves social media. He also sometimes writes articles about things he finds cool and interesting.


  1. / Reply

    First impression, such as in real life, is the key of success in webdesign. +1 for the windmills photography.

    1. / Reply


  2. / Reply

    excellent listing.

    1. / Reply

      thanks – glad you liked it!

  3. / Reply

    Great read. I enjoyed it! Thank you.

    1. / Reply

      you’re very welcome!

    • James,
    • September 3, 2011
    / Reply

    I agreed with what you said. First impression is important and whether the site is good or not is another matter. We, human are mostly visual appreciative so whats look good an appealing will get our attention first.

    Creating good first impression is not difficult I presumed but creating lasting impression is the challenge here.

    Thanks for the article.

    1. / Reply

      Exactly! I believe that a good first impression is a great way to introduce new people to your site. This doesn’t mean that they will come back – so you have to make sure to follow up with good content!

    • Carlson,
    • September 3, 2011
    / Reply

    Nice read and good examples. I would like to ask, what if you have created a bad impression in the first place? How do you salvage it? Will rebranding works? What’s your view and tips on this?


    1. / Reply

      I believe that it is never too late to create a good impression. Granted – you would have missed a lot of opportunity in the past, but it also means that you will have a great future.

      Re-branding is a great option, but we just have to make sure that we get it right – because if the site still looks bad after the ‘re-branding’, i would be really hard to capture the interest of the people for a third time.

      Anyways, I really think that it is never too late, and it is important to always think of the future regardless of how bad your previous work looks. We need to never stop evolving!

    • Rana mukherjee,
    • September 3, 2011
    / Reply


    • Karim Lahlou,
    • September 4, 2011
    / Reply

    One thing that I’ve learned is that lasting impressions have more to do with how you make someone feel, as opposed to the particulars that you do or say. In that vein, perhaps the ingredient to a great first impression in web design is stirring up a positive emotion within the viewer, so that when they’re reminded of your work, they’ll also remember the feeling associated with it–which should lead to a greater followership/ viewer retention rate.

    1. / Reply

      That’s a good point Karim. I definitely believe that lasting impressions have more to do with how you make someone feel – but I also think that being able to make a person feel or relate to your work has more to do with the content rather than the way a website looks. It’s interesting though, because if you can hook viewers in with a great design and then deliver with great content that is heartfelt and purpose driven (something that users can feel) – then you’re probably on to something good!

        • Karim Lahlou,
        • September 4, 2011
        / Reply

        Right, no, absolutely. The best websites create a synergy between content and design, so that, when executed perfectly, they lead to a holistic and friction-less experience where the content and design are emblematic of each other. A great example of this (and I will be the last to admit this) is the apple website where the user’s experience with the design is synonymous with the user’s experience with the product. Thank god templated websites are making their way out, although some of them (ultimate-guitar for example) still persist. I guess they’ve cultivated a “ghetto” feeling reminiscent of the dial-up days, but still…

  4. / Reply

    Unfortunately many people downplay the importance of nice looking and nicely structured website. But I have to disagree with Mashable website design, it’s too cluttered and confuses users, too much commercialized.

    1. / Reply

      True – it’s unfortunate, but I guess that it gives more room for others who understand the importance to shine!

  5. / Reply

    I agree with all the points mentioned.Great writeup :)

    1. / Reply

      Thanks Nikhil – Glad to hear it!

  6. / Reply

    First impressions are important, but people should not limit themselves only to that. I think it depends more on you, how you approach the design: subjective or objective. You have to acknowledge that the “impression” is a result of the personal touch, the character and, evidently, the brand behind it.
    Good read.

  7. / Reply

    agreed and share with my designer and developer team.

    1. / Reply

      Awesome, thanks a lot for sharing the article!

  8. / Reply

    I totally agree to your perspective that first impression should be the best one. A website which is a visual treat for eyes will never go unnoticed and leave a long lasting impression. Content packed with relevant information is also important but for going through the content the user should spend some time on the site.

    1. / Reply

      Exactly Maneet, a great looking website is a powerful way of introducing users to the content you produce. Thanks for your insight!

  9. / Reply

    Appearance is everything and isn’t limited to how we look, we apply it to everything we look at! I personally hate looking at sites which are unattractive, they may have all the information I need but it’s painful trying to find it. Sites which make a good impression generally use good imagery, typography and colour scheme, but I agree this needs to be backed up by useful information. Another good way to grab a users attention is by looking at what key areas you want to promote on your site and include these above the fold in an attractive way, this way the user can see whether you are offering what they want.

    1. / Reply

      Hey Anneka! You make a very good point that I forgot to mention. It is really important to design a website where others can find information easily. Poorly designed website are usually very messy and it’s such a huge headache trying to find what you are looking for. Thanks for pointing this out!

  10. / Reply

    I’ve had the honor of working with Jonathan Moore on several projects. He’s a great guy and colleague – easily one of the best. Glad to see he was included in this.

    1. / Reply

      Wow, that’s great to hear!
      I am a huge admirer of his work, and just like you said – definitely one of the best!

  11. / Reply

    You are absolutely right. I like the analogy to the girl everyone wants to date, but who has no substance. Thanks

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