How the Psychology of Web Design Affects Your Visitors

There are hundreds of websites with great content and perfect promotion on-air and on social but never really take off.  Most visitors come once and then never return.  Have you had a website like this and wondered why?  This is where the psychology of web design comes in.

Each week we try to educate you, as well as our clients, on best practices when it comes to their radio station website design.  While many may understand these best practices, not everyone will lean in and understand how those practices interact with our visitors and their human mind.

The choices that go into your website design can make or break your site’s success.  Research shows that 94 percent of users don’t trust websites that are poorly designed.  And we’re talking about more than just aesthetics.  Experts in quality web design know that a great website goes beyond simply being attractive. Any proper website should impress your visitors, hold their attention, and lead them to action.

The psychology of web design includes how colors, spacing, loading times, and even the fonts you use can affect a visitor’s mood and perception of your radio station or company.  Just like you deliberate over your station’s logo colors.  The color of the website should reflect the vibe of the station as well as the music you play.  Canva did a great article on how major brands that you know have used colors in their logos to drive feelings about their products.

Not only color but all of these other elements I mentioned are also just a few of the factors that come into play to trigger subconscious reactions in your visitors.  You must leverage these in order to get the desired action from them.

Layout

A great website layout guides the user towards the action the designer wants them to go.  Studies have shown that 38 percent of users claim to leave a site if the content or the layout is unattractive.

A very easy way for your website to look disjointed is to use images that are not equal in size.  We’ve seen some radio station websites where images attached to news articles are never proportionally sized to the other images around them.

The human brain is amazingly sharp at recognizing patterns. We are adept at noticing patterns in the background color of page layouts. Not incorporating this and displaying images of unequal proportions, breaks the familiarity pattern and our brain finds it difficult to focus.

The psychology of web design suggests that when your homepage is disorganized and the structure doesn’t make sense, you’ve blown that first impression.

Fonts

The font choice chosen for your website can say a lot about your station as well.  They set the tone of the writing overall.

Serif fonts, or fonts that have occasional tails, give the impression of heritage and authority.  They work well for respected news outlets.

Sans-serif fonts do not have tails and do have a clean, more modern aesthetic to them.  These are often used by tech companies and social networks.

Steer clear of cutesy font choices for your station website, even if they match the font in your logos.  These are mostly used for single-use cases and not for many areas around a website design.  Picking a proper/readable font based on the psychological aspects of the message you’re trying to convey is the safest route.

Whatever you do, never use Comic Sans for your website, for your banner ads, or anything else.  Marvel’s Captain Marvel page looks like something a kid would have designed in the 90s, minus the MySpace link. Notice the use of Comic Sans here.

Going with a font that doesn’t align with the goals of your website can create dissonance.  Combining different fonts isn’t a good idea either because it can lead to what appears as a poor design, which we’ve covered.

Space

How does it feel when you look at a crowded webpage?  The eyes have trouble focusing on one thing because it seems chaotic and disorganized.  That’s going to be a turn-off to most visitors.

You might think that the more options your visitors have, the more likely they’ll find one that interests them.  However, studies show that giving people multiple choices can create a choice overload.  So instead of choosing the most suitable option for them, they might not choose any.

Try to limit your calls to action, especially above the fold, or the visible area when someone first comes to your website.  For the rest of the page, white space can be your friend.  Think of the white space (figuratively, it can be any color) as breathing space. It allows the user to skim through the main content and focus on the area of their choice.

It’s important to find the right mix of pleasing design and content saturation to generate positive feelings from visitors so they will remain on the page longer.

Content

People respond better when they feel things are directed to them specifically. Personalized content that speaks directly to users – using the word “you” or “your” for instance – and discusses their specific areas of interest gives many consumers a positive, friendly feeling that builds trust in your brand.

You can use this psychological tidbit by manipulating the titles of your news and blog posts.  Give it a try on two separate but similar posts and track if one is opened more than the other.  Instead of “City Officials Announce Road Closures Next Week” use something like “Local Road Closures Next Week Might Affect Your Commute”.

Not every story will be able to utilize this, but just know that your visitors are more likely to respond to these more personalized messages.

Ensure your Website Loads Fast

We’ve all experienced websites that take forever to load. According to Google’s research, users are 32% more likely to leave your website if the page takes 3 seconds to load.

A paradox known as the perception of speed is at play here. The theory suggests that people don’t notice time passing while occupied with something pleasant. However, visitors know exactly how much time has passed when they are irritated or displeased.

Use a free service like Google Page Insights to examine your pages and look for ways that you can make your websites load faster.

The biggest culprit among slow radio station websites is the use of large images.  So, ensure every image your team uploads to the website is sized properly and optimized for the fastest load times.

Do Not Underestimate the Psychology of Web Design

The cognitive and psychological impacts of web design can’t be overstated. Brands that connect with their audience on an emotional level will more easily earn their trust and loyalty.

If you’re wondering if your current radio website or mobile app checks all of the boxes we’ve mentioned, it’s a great idea to perform a website usability test.  This is where you have random people who’ve had little/no interaction with the station website to perform tasks.  Along the way, ask them how easy or hard it is to do certain things.  This will test the connection that your website is (or isn’t) making with your audience and gives insight on what to tweak in order to improve that connection.

Again, research shows that 94% of users don’t trust websites that are poorly designed.  48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of the business it represents.

You only have a few seconds to gain a visitor’s trust and that trust can translate into more or less time spent listening to your station.  When your website is well-designed and carefully populated and has clear navigation, it should be enough to put any visitor at ease and instill an eagerness to return.

There are dozens of more little factors that make up the psychology of web design and a perfectly designed website, but I hope the tips mentioned today help you in making your radio station website better.  If you don’t have a partner for your website, we’d love to help.  Reach out to us.

Jim Sherwood serves as the chief creative, brand strategist, lead developer, meticulous project manager, and station collaborator for all Skyrocket Radio sites and projects. Jim is a 30+ year radio veteran with a resume spanning several small, medium, and large markets including roles as Digital Content Manager, Program Director, Production Manager, and Morning Show Host.