Monday, January 9, 2012

Great Website Design Isn't PRETTY. It's EFFECTIVE.

What’s nice about eye-track testing is that it shows precisely what grabs your viewers’ attention, what they see, in what order, and how long they linger at each point.  

That’s incredibly powerful data.

Litigators don’t guess in important cases what’s going to work with the jury, they find out -- they conduct jury research.  Then they use that data to improve their results.  Of course, that’s not to minimize the significant value of decades of hands-on experience. But when you can get accurate data, use it

Market research is expensive; it’s not possible in many situations.  But when it’s cost-effective, it can take something great and make it even better. 

So here are two website designs we developed for 250-lawyer Vedder Price, two different ways to convey the same message regarding the firm’s new London office and English-Law Aviation Finance lawyers, see wrote in detail about this last week, including showing the integrated campaigns tools, including ads, websites, etc. Click here, then scroll down to see it all.)

The website design one on the left ("HATS") has a big photo that is more visually interesting, and the overall campaign is designed to be a tad more humorous.  The right website ("ICONS") also has a strong conceptually theme in the Hero/Banner section, but is more focused on the content. (The six ads supporting these two examples are shown at the bottom of the same link.)

In our experience, both would work great, easily achieving the firm’s goals.  But which one accomplish those goals more effectively?  Testing can help you find out. Here's how: 

In the highly visual one on the left, the vibrant Beefeater hat is what you see first (see "Fixation Order" graphic), which holds viewers' attention for an average of 5.5 seconds (see "Average Time Spent..."), before they get to the headline, which they read for 1.5 seconds.  In the version on the right, they go straight to the critical headline.

What's also important is that although 100% of the viewers saw the big black hat, only 81% noticed the headline below it (see "Percentage Seen..." below).  

That indicates that if we selected the "Hats" version we should probably enlarge the headline, (which would likely cause our designers to complain just a bit about hurting their aesthetic. Well... tough.)  Contrast that with the overwhelming 96% who read the headline in the "Icons" design on the right.

In both layouts the firm name is the third place viewers' eyes go.  Excellent.

In the "Icons" design, the important content headline, “Vedder Price’s New London Office” is the fourth visual point, and viewers spent 2.5 seconds reading it, then spent 4 seconds scanning the supporting News paragraph.  That’s good.

In the "Hats" layout, the actual information we want them to remember is not noticed until the SEVENTH Fixation Point. This layout takes a bit too long to get to the real information, and we risk losing the viewers before they learn what we want them to know.

When the viewers DID get to that paragraph on the "Hats" design (left), they only spent a scant 2.5 seconds reading it.  Contrast that to the "Icons" layout (right), where they stayed for 4 seconds -- spending substantially more time reading that same paragraph.

What’s the point?  

Great web design doesn’t just make something attractive

It makes it effective.

- Please CALL ROSS if you're looking to update or overhaul your website. 
We'd love to help you succeed.  +1.847.432.3546.

All images (c) 2011 Vedder Price LLP,  Fishman Marketing, Inc., or Eye Track Shop, Inc. 


  1. It's true that pretty is a lame word for a great website. It's what keeps the visitors coming back and therefore it generates sale which makes it effective. I'm thankful enough for my seo Australia for helping my website become effective too because of all the catchy design and substantial content they make.

  2. The title is absolutely right. A great website design can’t be justified alone by how it pretty it looks, but by how effective the design is at delivering the intended message to the readers whose consuming the content packed along with the magical graphics.

    Andrew - website design and development company based in Florida.