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by Bill Haig, PhD
Chairman/CEO
Haig Branding
     Powerlogos Design
     Powerwebsite Design      First Glance Website
        Optimization

Websites at "First Glance"
The Logo and Home Page Credibility Requirement
July 2007

     When visitors land on a website, the first thing they do is mentally evaluate in an instant whether they can trust the information on the site enough to continue. Like all information, this is a matter of whether or not the source of the information can be trusted.

     In people to people interaction, we evaluate the person doing the talking before we accept the person's message. On a website, we evaluate the company behind the information. The company is evaluated at "first glance" during the first three seconds of a website encounter.

What do visitors look for during this critical period?

    Research indicates that perception is done at "first glance" and on the basis of whether the company is considered credible or not. Further, visitors look for what is termed "surface" cues for credibility. Stanford University web credibility researcher, Dr. B.J. Fogg, describes "surface credibility" as simple inspection of surface traits non-verbally communicated by visual design.

     In people to people communication this would be how a person looks, his or her dress, or hairstyle. Whether the person is neat or sloppy. These are "surface credibility" characteristics. We often hear the phrase, "you don't get a second chance to make a first good impression."

     Why is a first impression of people important? We trust or don't trust the credibility of people upon first meeting. This leads to accepting, or not accepting, what they have to say.

     The same is true at the moment of "first glance" at a website, except we look at the how credible the company logo and home page looks through non-verbal design elements. In an instant. This is critical for continued website success. The objective is to turn visitors into trusting customers who move on after "first glance" within the website for the purpose of purchasing a product or service.

     Website studies on visitor use conclude that over eighty percent of visitors leave at "first glance" if they do not consider a website credible. In fact, on the positive side, my PhD research concluded that four times as many visitors will continue as conversion rate customers if a credibility-based logo is on the company website at "first glance" compared to a non-credible logo.

     Thus, my research supports that of Dr. B.J. Fogg and his Stanford (as in University) Web Credibility Research (http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/). We suggest that savvy website owners have two easy opportunities to look credible and boost visitor website trust at "first glance" to increase conversion rates:

  1. Show that there is a real organization behind the website, as an honest trustworthy company. This is done most effectively with a credibility-based logo designsm representing the company. The credible company logo is usually in the upper left hand corner of the website. Perception theory in communication persuasion suggests that people immediately want to know the source of the message which follows. Just like when we often look first for the name of the person on an envelop or post card.

    Similarly, visitors to a website look at the company logo, or search for the company name if there is no logo, at "first glance."

    Then, simultaneously,

  2. Show that there is a credible organization behind the website with an appropriately designed home page. A company website home page must be designed with the same appropriate credibility traits as in the company logo. This will also give consistency in credibility traits important to the company behind the website.

    Logos and home pages are perceived almost simultaneously. People perceive the "whole" before they perceive the parts. Although the eye will go immediately to the company logo or name (as a part) after perceiving the "whole" or overall visual character of the home page. Thus, the company credibility-based logo design and the home page design must have a consistency in credibility design "look." For example, the logo cannot have a contemporary design and the home page a dated design.

    The bottom line is that the whole visitor perception, logo and home page, must communicate credibility to assure the visitor continues at this initial web experience --- at "first glance."


How Does Visitor "First Glance" Work to Gain Website Credibility?

     As mentioned, one of the first things a visitor sees upon landing on a website is the company logo. "Who is behind this website?" we ask ourselves. The company's logo must be credibility-based. That is, the logo must have credibility traits appropriate for the company.

     Credibility based logo design projects the company as being an expert in their business symbolizing the company core competence and communicates the company as being trustworthy and believable. I sometimes add that a company must be believable at being able to do the work for which it claims to be an expert.

     Expertise and trustworthy define the two import credibility traits for a given company. Take Continental Airlines for example circa 1968, one of the author's many logo projects. "Flying" is Continental's basic business or expertise. Continental's logo symbol communicated "flying" as an abstract jet stream.


     Credibility-based logo design also communicates the company as trustworthy with recognized non-verbal design motifs. Continental's reputation for high service was communicated by making the "flying" symbology "high tech", "state-or-the-art" and "friendly". These trustworthy traits were communicated in a contemporary design motif quite suitable for 1968 and maybe even today. University supervised research demonstrated that successful logos --- logos that work to help achieve company goals --- are indeed credibility-based.


Continued in:

Websites At "First Glance", Part 2


© William L. Haig, Ph.D. or Bill Haig, Ph.D. 2007

This is an original work of the author. All rights reserved. Copyright registration will be applied for. No part of this article may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, and recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of the author.

© 2007 Powerlogos Design. All rights reserved. 'Powerlogos Design', 'Credibility Based Logo Design', 'Logo Implementation Guidelines' and Logo Planning Report' are registered 
service marks of William Haig. Other brands or products are trademarks, service marks, registered trademarks or registered service marks of their respective holders.