Internet Users Choose Speed and Readability Over Appearance: Web Poll

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More than 93 per cent of Internet users indicated they favour speed and readability over appearance when visiting websites, according to a recent online poll conducted by Webcopyplus.

More than 93 per cent of Internet users indicated they favour speed and readability over appearance when visiting websites, according to a recent online poll conducted by Webcopyplus.

When Internet users were asked what's likely to drive them away from a website:

  • 51.2 per cent indicated "slow load times"
  • 42.2 per cent specified "weak web copy"
  • 6.6 per cent selected "poor visual presentation"

A total of 258 users participated in the web writing service provider's online poll during a four-month period that ended in April of 2007.

"The poll results clearly suggest functionality and clear messages top Internet users' desires and demands," says Rick Sloboda, Senior Web Copywriter at Webcopyplus.

Speed

A total of 132 Internet users noted they are quick to hit the 'back button' when pages are slow to load, implying they expect websites to deliver information rapidly without exception.

"The Web is fully capable of distributing communications at a staggering rate, but many web creators willfully hinder the technology," says Sloboda. "For the sake of visitors, webmasters should optimize images, streamline HTML and definitely stay away from self-serving Flash intros that provide little or no value."

While he agrees Flash is an effective tool for adding audio, video and animation to a website, he says it's simply overused.

"Why make visitors wait as much as a minute just to watch a logo spin around?" asks Sloboda. "It's a blatant disregard for web users and their time."

The communications specialist of almost 20 years suggests most Flash intros are not created with the visitor and business in mind, but rather as an opportunity to showcase a programmer's abilities.

"If someone wants to experiment or go for design awards, it shouldn't be done on the customer's dime," he says.

Web writing

Web writing was deemed most important to 109 poll participants, which doesn't surprise Sloboda.

"Frankly," he explains, "if a site's web writing does not present the information needed by users, the website provides little or no value regardless of how fast it loads or how stunning it looks.

"We need to provide visitors web writing that's relevant, concise, scannable and objective," he says, stressing web writing should never be filled with marketing hype. "It's one of the quickest ways to get labeled a 'spammer' and kill your credibility."

Design

The fact that only 17 poll participants placed weight on visual presentation doesn't mean designers hold a small role in the Web and its evolution, notes Sloboda.

"Quite the contrary," he says. "Good designers and programmers recognize the fact that design is both function and aesthetics. It's not about decoration.

"Design is the tool and principle by which we craft and convey effective communications. Consequently, good design is what ultimately produces useful, convenient and simple websites.

"At the end of the day," concludes Sloboda, "load time, web writing and design all have integral roles in promoting usability and positive online experiences.

"Deliver on all three fronts," he says, "and you'll experience more online traffic, happier customers and a healthier bottom line."

About Webcopyplus
Webcopyplus provides businesses keyword-rich web writing designed to boost online traffic, credibility and sales. Clients range from small, independent retailers (Shop Cocoon) to some of the world's largest service providers (Cingular). Visit http://www.webcopyplus.com for more information.

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Rick Sloboda