Dress for Success: Web Design for Lasting Impression

by Rick LaPoint December 6th, 2010 

375832178_02b1b0e4b1_z From your elegant header, down to your shiny footer, and even to those silky unmentionables underneath, your website makes a lasting impression whenever a new visitor sees it for the first time.

The old adage is that you cant judge a book by its cover. But you do it anyway, so its useless to pretend that others dont, as well. Content may be King, but Appearance is the horse it rides in on, be it a magnificent steed or a gimpy nag.

Every detail within your website is an important element that helps convey your unique Message"not just to Humans, but to Spiders, too"so its important to get it right. And we arent speaking of simple, shallow, outward show. The things people dont see are of equal importance to the things they do see.

A Sharply Dressed Website

We all realize that each one of these subjects could easily fill a long article by itself, or even an entire book. But we will touch upon each one briefly.

  • Pleasing Colour & Design scheme that produces your desired emotional response
  • Distinctive Logo that clearly identifies your Brand
  • Intuitive Layout that requires no explanation or instruction
  • Content that leaves your readers wanting more
  • Targeted SEO underneath the hood that doesnt intrude on the user experience
  • Quick Page Load and responsive handling - No sluggish scripts or plugins

Emotional Psychology of Colour & Design

2200714560_19aca2ed93_z In his classic bestselling book, Dress for Success, even though he primarily taught how to achieve the upper-class business look, John Mallow stressed the importance of dressing appropriately for the job you want. A painter should apply for a painter's job looking like a painter.

A website for children should not look like CNN, and you will never see a News site covered in Pastel with a bright Flower wallpaper in the background.

For better or worse, Expectation and Cliche are the tools we use to create an instant recognition in the mind of the visitor about what kind of website they are looking at. If you want to be creative and step outside the Box, you mustn't stray too far from the unwritten confines of the Box already created by others. Otherwise, removing yourself from established orthodoxy for your niche will prevent visitors from taking you seriously.

The caveat, of course, is that Rules are made to be broken, and Rules that are broken very well can create a unique perspective that attracts visitors and drives Traffic.

Branding with a Hot Logo

Although overall colour scheme plays a part in Branding, your Logo is that one little symbol that says it all. A logo must be simple enough to be recognized and distinctive enough to be memorable.

The best placement is at the left side of your Header, if for no other reason than that is where your visitors expect to see it. If you were Coca-Cola you could place your logo almost anywhere. But you're not"so don't.

We have all seen many, many bland, forgettable Logos that all fight for top honours in the Me Too competition. If bland and forgettable is the Image you want your visitors to, uhm, forget, then knock yourself out. Otherwise, your time is well-invested when carefully testing and choosing your Logo.

A Layout Well-Traveled

4445450019_3f4a758e31_z There seems to be some perverse Rule that the more important the website, the more convoluted the Navigation must be. I have certain expectations when I visit your site, and playing Hide & Seek is not one of them. Keep your Road Signs simple enough to prevent me from driving right past your watering hole.

And even if your Navigation is straight-forward and intuitive, it won't matter if the landscape is a minefield of advertisements and clutter.

Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch says he can't make a profit from the Advertising on his websites. If your ads are not making you money, get rid of them. Focus on your Core Offer and find unobtrusive methods for presenting it.

Not Just a Pretty Face

So here we are, back to Content. Your Content should be relevant to the subject of your website. It should be well-written, informative, and interesting. If it's entertaining as well, even better.

Good Content tells me what I want to know about:

  • You
  • Your Topic
  • Your Abilities
  • Your Reliability
  • Your Product

If you can present this information in a way that holds my interest, I will return for more when I need to. If you entertain or evoke positive emotions in the process, I will return because I want to.

Optimize and Organize

1704875109_9b414964f5_z My view of Search Engine Optimization is one of Order. Simply ensure that your message is Consistent. In this article, I am not pounding the same Keyword over and over. But all through the article there is a consistency of word usage surrounding the Keyword. I have written for People all the way through. But the algorithm is certain to pick up all the words that associate with each other.

What Keywords have I used throughout this article?

  • Website
  • Header
  • Footer
  • Branding
  • Logo
  • Content
  • Design
  • Colour
  • Relevance
  • Product
  • Keyword, KeyPhrase
  • Layout
  • Navigation
  • Advertising
  • SEO
  • Search Engine
  • Spiders
  • Page Rank
  • Backlink
  • Traffic
  • Optimized, Optimization

All of these words, together, paint a picture of Relevance to the core Topic/KeyPhrase, which is "Web Design," right there in the Title. And as you see right here in this section, I was able to re-emphasis all of these words in a very people-friendly way that not only did no harm to the flow of the article, but added to the value of the Instruction itself.  :-)

Another piece that is gaining attention is Speed. I hate websites that are so filled with scripts and plugins that they become sluggish and unresponsive.

OK, I get it, you want me to Tweet your post. But if I have difficulty getting through the page I won't bother to read your post, let alone recommend you.

And don't even get me started about Pop-ups!

Some plugins are better than others, and some scripts bring more problems than solutions. User Experience is paramount. A cluttered page and sluggish movement make you look amateur, and can ruin all the hard work you put into wonderful Content and beautiful Artwork.

Google thinks so, too, and will penalize you for it.

Don't Put All Your Eggs in Google's Basket

An aspect of SEO that is rarely is discussed is Quality. Your site must be attractive enough to your core demographic to be able to drive Traffic independently of Google.

You never know what Google will do or change next, so the safest course of action is to rely on your own efforts to bring visitors.

Having said that, I believe Google respects Traffic. Think of the process as a bank loan. You won't get the loan unless you can prove you don't really need it. If a significant amount of your Traffic comes from a variety of other sources, Google sees that as an indicator and endorsement of your Quality.

And never forget, a high Page Rank Backlink that no one clicks is not as valuable to you as a lower PR Link that drives Traffic to your site.

An attractive website"from top to bottom to deep inside"will retain visitors, and more importantly, bring them back for more. And, they will spread the Word about you, too.

The Mantra with Google is Relevance, and nothing says Relevance more than a Traffic flow that makes Google, well, Irrelevant.

Your Website is Your Message

1447907224_adba8f2207_z It's been said, that to make a million dollars, you should look like a million dollars. How you say it is just as important as what you say"if not more so.

If your website looks like it has value, people will believe your Content has value. There is much more to good SEO than Keywords. Well-crafted Content goes hand-in-hand with attractive design for an overall professional and believable presentation.

When people see a consistent Message within your Website, your Content, your Style, and your Attitude, they will trust you far more than they would if these elements are in disagreement with each other. Consistency spells Competence.

And speaking of disagreement, now is the time to offer your Opinion in the Comment Box below. Tell me, what is YOUR Message?

Rick LaPoint

RickLaPoint has years of experience with Inside and Outside Sales & Marketing. He has developed software products with C++ for anticipating turning points for stocks, forex, and futures, and has given many live presentations teaching technical analysis skills. For more of Rick's Online Business Ideas visit his website.

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22 Responses to “Dress for Success: Web Design for Lasting Impression”

  1. Your graphical images here are stunning! Makes my website look like a gray graveyard.



    .-= Edward @ SEO Philippines recently posted: Are You A Darth Vader or A Luke Skywalker SEO Jedi =-.

  2. Jeanette says:

    The stunning images and content kept me reading all the way to the end of the page. So much for no scrolling designs!

  3. Hesham says:

    Rick, What an excellent article!!

    To me, delivering the message to a first time visitor is really important thing, and probably this what makes my blog very clear and remarkable with no doubt!

    It's not really me who are saying that, but I've got it from the blog feedback!

    It's really cool to see the way your keywords are organized, listing it in columns makes the picture more clear, really easy to figure out how relevance those keyword to each other.

    Really good writing, although I am not sure if photos in this post are picked by you personally or by SeachEnginesPeople's editors, it made reading the article much joy, great work!
    .-= Hesham recently posted: My Readers and I We Do Stuff =-.

    • Rick LaPoint says:

      Hi Hesham,

      Thank you for coming by!

      It's gratifying to know you enjoyed the article. Ruud outdid himself with the graphics :-)

      There are so many ideas out there about "proper" SEO. But getting people to your page thru SERP is only half the battle; you must keep their interest once they arrive.

      Hopefully the organization of keywords here will help accomplish both.

      Thank you so much for your support!

      .-= Rick LaPoint recently posted: Create and Market Your Own Product =-.

  4. Hi Rick

    What can I say other than wow & wow again!!! Of course as you know me, had to say a little more. Your GP is par excellence :-) Loved it all. From the graphics to the amazingly crafted post. You continue to surprise me and this is no exception. Some quality content in there. Will bookmark and go check how much work I need to do on my blog. Off to RT so others can enjoy too.

    Patricia Perth Australia
    .-= Patricia@lavenderuses recently posted: So Little Time- So Much To Do =-.

  5. Tristan says:

    Great post, Rick!

    "If your ads are not making you money, get rid of them." YES. Thank you! I don't have any ads on my blog right now because I know my traffic isn't enough to make me much money, so I don't even bother. And even when it does get to a point where I'm getting a lot of traffic, I think there are plenty of other ways to still make money from a blog yet not clutter up the sidebar.

    And another way to look at it… Most blogs DO have tons of ads, so by NOT having any ads on yours, you're standing out from the crowd.

    And I like this a lot, too: "The caveat, of course, is that Rules are made to be broken, and Rules that are broken very well can create a unique perspective that attracts visitors and drives Traffic."

    Yup. I don't really have much more to say about that, but I think it's a fantastic point.

    Another job well done, buddy. Keep up the great work! Post enjoyed and retweeted.
    .-= Tristan recently posted: Blog With a Gun to Your Head or How to REALLY Get Things Done =-.

    • Rick LaPoint says:

      Hi Tristan,

      I have another site with no ads, but I do have a couple Review pages of products that fit my niche. These pages get Google traffic each month. I think if a site owner sells someone else's product, they will have much greater success highlighting and endorsing than simply slapping up a banner.

      But as you say, so many sites do exactly that. Those sidebar ads are 'invisible' to me, as I believe they are to most people.

      I personally like a clean site, as I'm sure most visitors do.

      And I have seen enough sites that try to break the Rules that at times, I wonder if they understand the Rules at all! I one time saw a site by a 'web designer' that was purple with green accents. I kid you not! [shudder] For most, it's safer to draw within the lines. I continue to ask opinions about my own site, so I can ensure a positive experience for the greatest majority of visitors.

      Thank you for your kind words of support, Tristan–and the ReTweets!

      .-= Rick LaPoint recently posted: Create and Market Your Own Product =-.

  6. Ben Wan says:

    Hi Rick,

    You've succinctly said everything that we need to pay attention to in modern web design. What you’ve written here totally resonate with me and they are all important. I’m going to use this post as a checklist to verify if I’m doing all those on my website.

    Because I understand the importance people judging a website by its look, I've spent some working on the look of my website. We can enhance our website (or WordPress theme) with a bit of css3 to make it have a million dollar look.

    Ben Wan
    .-= Ben Wan recently posted: Don’t Go Broke Trying to Build an Online Business =-.

    • Rick LaPoint says:

      Hi Ben,

      I've been to your site, and it does have a very clean, pleasant, professional look & feel.

      I love that burst of colour highlight in your header that compliments the overall theme.

      I'm gratified you enjoyed the article, Ben.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

      .-= Rick LaPoint recently posted: Create and Market Your Own Product =-.

  7. Rick,

    Awesome article.

    You said Ruud Hein did picked your graphics so a big "props" to him to. They were some amazing visuals. they captivated me as well as your words.

    Your comment about layout and design being the horse content rode in on is a perfect point.

    I do think content is uber important, but design and layout can either make the experience easy for people or hard. My site is fairly bland right now, as I am going to do a complete site redesign in couple of weeks, but I do agree that having a site that "pops" without sacrificing load speed is essential.

    There really is a lot more to the "experience" of a website beyond the simple (but important) content.

    Thanks for this great article
    .-= Steve@Internet Lifestyle recently posted: Get More Blog Traffic Blueprint Week 4 =-.

  8. Rick LaPoint says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for the kind words.

    I note you are using Thesis on your site. My own site began with Thesis before I switched to Headway. But it looks exactly the same now as then.

    With Thesis, be sure you download the OpenHook plugin, or you'll be forced to do it the hard way with lots of php.

    For my look I still had to use php, but with OpenHook, at least all the other hooks were pretty straightforward.

    And yes, more kudos for Ruud and his choice of graphics. Where *does* he find these things…

    Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the comment!

    .-= Rick LaPoint recently posted: Create and Market Your Own Product =-.

  9. Alex says:

    Fantastic post Rick!
    Mate you are showing us that you really do know what the … you are talking about, and you continue to do so in such an engaging way.

    Btw – images are to die for! That's HDR Photography yeah?
    .-= Alex recently posted: Not Just Another Sydney Based Search Engine Marketing Firm =-.

  10. kirk taylor says:


    I've spent five minutes on your blog. I commented on your comment at ProBlogger. Who cares what "Ruppert Murdoch" believes. He's got self-imposed limitiations because he listens to people that have preconcieved notions about selling advertising.

    You're obviously a leader. You might not realize it yet, but you are. Don't corner yourself, build your empire.


    • Rick LaPoint says:

      Hi Kirk,

      Thank you for your kind words of encouragement.

      You just gotta love the Internet, where we can carry on conversations over several web Domains :-)

      My point at ProBlogger, and which I have stated a number of times, is that the Advertising Model requires mountains of Traffic in order to succeed. Ruppert Murdoch knows what he's talking about when he says he's losing money with that Model. And he obviously gets the Traffic.

      For any Information Provider to make money, there must be some type of Unique Product that generates revenue. A blogger will fail, and then get discouraged, if they try to produce an income without making some kind of Proprietary Product a focus of their endeavors.

      As for Leadership, I thank you for the compliment. But I do understand a Leader must be careful to stay in front of the herd, yet not so far ahead that the herd can longer see them 😉

      Thanks so much for following me from ProBlogger to my site, to here :-)


      • Ruud Hein says:

        I like your view, Rick.

        With a product a site owner gets to set a price that can make a 2-3% CTR profitable. With advertisement 2-3% CTR needs to translate into hundreds if not thousands of clicks to be profitable.

        And it's hard (impossible?) to simply set your own price for advertisement. Google Adsense doesn't even go that way: a click on your site can be worth as much as on mine, no matter what. Advertisers bid for appearance, not for where they appear.

        On the other hand, isn't the only product open then for many or most bloggers an e-book?