Learning Hub | Mindful Marketing

The Science Behind You Need A Great Website Design

January 23, 2016 | Jon Teodoro

We solve thousands of problems every day and may not even realize it. What should I eat for lunch today? Which route should I take home? Should I watch that seventh Netflix episode in a row?

But as humans, it is impossible for us to consciously weigh out the pros and cons of every situation. Instead, our brains use heuristics to streamline our problem solving processes.

A heuristic is any mental shortcut that we use for problem solving, learning, or discovery. Heuristics occur subconsciously and allow us to solve multiple problems at a time. Without heuristics, we would be horribly inefficient at living our daily lives.

What do heuristics this have to do a quality website design?

When people interact with your business for the first time, they’re going to establish an opinion about your brand. This first impression happens through a heuristic process. One common heuristic that we use to make first impressions is the effort heuristic.

Based on this study done by the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, the effort heuristic states that people will generally associate something to be of higher quality based on the amount of time and effort that they perceive has went into building or creating it.

In one of the experiments in the study, participants were asked to evaluate the quality of a piece of poetry. Participants were required to make two types of judgements: qualitative (“How much do you like the poem?”) and quantitative (“How much do you think the poem is worth?”).

Half of the participants were told that the poem took four hours (low effort) to complete, while the other half of the participants were told that the poem took eighteen hours (high effort) to complete.

The results demonstrated that those who were told that the poem took more effort to complete not only felt that the poem had higher quality, but also valued the poem to be worth almost twice as much.



Table 1: Effort heuristic study, J. Krueger et. al

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

In today’s connected world, a visit to your business’ website is the first touch point for new customers. For businesses that don’t include quality as a part of their brand identity, the design of your website may not matter as much. However, if you position your business towards the higher end of the quality spectrum, a professionally designed website is a worthy investment.

If quality is indeed the name of your game, your website’s design isn’t the only thing that you should pay attention to. The caliber of your content, such as the text, pictures, and videos that live on your website should also be good enough to meet the expectations of your customers. Misspellings, low-quality pictures, or poorly produced videos could send the wrong message.

Remember that until you have had a chance to walk a customer though a demo or have them experience your products or services in person, the perceived quality of your brand matters more than the real value.

Cost Effective Tips For Improving Perceived Value Without Breaking The Bank

Bad timing or a lack of capital could be the reason why you haven’t been able to dedicate as many resources to your marketing as you should have. Despite this, you’re not totally screwed. Here are a few quick tips that you can implement now to help boost your brand’s perceived value:

  • Audit your website’s copy – Make sure there are no misspellings, grammatical errors, or other obvious mistakes.
  • Remove low-quality pictures – If you have low resolution pictures on your website, take them off. Replace them with stock photography from sites like ShutterStock or BigStock, if you can.
  • Talk to your customers – The best validation is feedback from real people. Ask them what they think of your brand. Do they think your website matches the quality of your actual products or services? How about your other marketing materials?

Heuristics Can Cause Us To Take Shortcuts With Our Own Business

We can be a victim of our own heuristics. Because we’re in a time crunch or on a tight budget, we may be led to believe that cutting corners on our website’s design or marketing materials might be a good idea. The effort heuristic as demonstrated above tells us otherwise.

First impressions matter and can make a very substantial difference in how people value your products or services. So the next time you’re presented with a “cheap” option for marketing your business, make sure you think twice!