How you dress your website says a great deal about your personality and the type of person you want to attract. Like people, your website’s various colors, layout and functionality can have drastically different appeal.
A study by Jamy Li and Mark Chignell of the University of Toronto reveals how readers are more attracted to authors they judge to be similar to themselves. The language you use and how it is delivered are your strongest cues to personality, but what if you want to attract an audience you don’t necessarily fit in?
As identity designer David Airey puts it, “Your website opens doors to contacts you’d never imagine you’d meet. Now more than ever, millions of people have access to your online presence, and whether you like it or not, they’ll immediately judge you upon your site design.”
To a designer, this states the obvious, but it is too easy for a blog to give a different impression than intended. Rather than striving to appeal to everyone, understanding the audience and fusing their point of view with a solid design aethetic is the best way to attract the right people and build that core readership.
Li and Chignell concluded that readers were able to judge an author’s personality with a high rate of accuracy, and were the most attracted to blogs they felt fit their own world views, ‘niche’ or cultural preferences. This is not all that surprising, really.
The Eye Makes Snap Judgements
The brain can make judgements almost as fast as visual information hits the back of the eye. In a study by Carleton University in Canada, viewers shown a variety of websites were able to rate the site’s visual appeal in under 50 milliseconds. This initial impression occurs before a single word is read, demonstrating just how – even on the internet – looks come before personality.
If your blog went to a party, how would it dress? What kind of people would be there? What do they do for a living? Consider how these blogs at left translate.
Design Should Match Tone
Because your ideal reader shares a similar point of view, often your own perceptions are enough to drive this aspect of your blog’s design. Where you don’t want to go overboard is with imagery or graphics. Discerning web users prefer a minimal approach, if not necessarily in the overall design, in the way content is presented.
Color is Key
Color is typically the first thing about your website that affects viewer perception, and it does so on a subconscious level. There are many interpretations of color depending on a viewer’s cultural background, personal preferences and state of mind.
The Right Type of Type
Typography is another critical factor. At the Software Usability Research Lab at Wichita State University, common fonts were matched with various personality traits by participants. The study discovered that each font-face embodies prominent factors that affect how visitors attribute personality and voice to your content.
While employing design theory and balance to a design’s typography is important, the font you choose for your logo and presentation conveys the voice of your website as much as the content itself, and factors largely into your blog’s overall style.
If your blog can charm a viewer with an attractive design, one that immediately delivers ques as to the personality within, not only will they stay long enough to read what you have to say, they may overlook other factors such as functionality or ad quantity and approve of the content at a higher rate.
This is thanks to cognative bias. People want to be right in their judgements, therefore using a website that gave a favorable first impression “proves” they made a good decision. In terms of web design, this impression is based first on visual impact, second on content and third on other factors such as usability and credibility.
In the end, personality is about interpretation. People want to connect with someone familiar, influential, intriguing and relevant.
By determining what factors make up your own persona, you are better equipped to put the best face forward to your visitors to build stronger brand trust, subscription rates and social recognition.