Brains Know Good Websites When They See Them

As websites have evolved from electronic brochures to interactive marketing portals, their design has become increasingly important. Research shows the most successful websites help the brains of viewers recognize familiar patterns, which boosts click rates and, ultimately, sales.

In a recent blog, web marketing expert Todd Follansbee says, "The brain doesn't like things that don't fit right. More accurately, it doesn't like things that don't fit the way it expects them to fit." He explains humans have limited short-term memories, but can absorb and retain more information if the brain can place into an established cranial crevice.

A simple example Follansbee cites are visual cues for hyperlinks on a website landing page. If hyperlinks aren't consistent or fit into a recognizable pattern, viewers grow inpatient and exit.

He recommends submitting website designs to a usability test, employing UX guidelines to simplify site features, conform with brain recognition patterns and increase conversion rates.

"The brain's ability to recognize patterns and form mental models also helps us to identify and remember good and bad sites," Follansbee says. "Make sure your visitors' first visit to your site is a good one by ensuring that you meet basic guidelines. They will be more likely to return."

Hannah Smith, CFM's account executive who designs websites (including CFM's website), reinforces Follansbee's point. "When I design a website, I envision it with the perspective of the viewer. The questions I ask are, 'Is the site design clean and uncluttered?' 'Is it easy to navigate?' "Are main features accessible and attractively placed?' 'Does it work in a mobile format?'"

The phrase "I know it when I see it" applies to good websites. Make sure your website design speaks to the brains of your target audience. If you are using an off-the-shelf template, chances are it doesn't. The vast majority flunked the UX scoring test. Maybe it's time for you to bring your website in for a check-up.