It is great to have my beliefs about effective design and layout of a website confirmed by empirical data- conclusions that are derived by (real) scientific studies from reputable institutions, such as a university.
Recently, the University of Missouri released results from a studyusing infrared and eye-tracking software to find out what people look at on a website and how much time they spent looking at various parts of a website.
Here is a summary:
Viewers spent around 2.6 seconds scanning a web pagebefore focusing on any particular area. This is where professional layout and design of a website can engage a viewer of a website (and convert them to customers) or send them off to someone elses website.
The Main Navigation: 6.44 seconds. (KISS! Keep It Simple Stupid! Your main navigation should be EASY TO FOLLOW AND NAVIGATE)
The Search box: 6 seconds (This one surprised me - I don't understand why people spend much time looking at an empty box).
The Written Content: 5.59 seconds skimming (I have always said - viewers don't read - they skim. Is the quality of the content important? Absolutely. First, if it is relevant and new, it will likely be engaging to viewers who are interested in your product or service. Second, relevant and new content, particularly that which is keyword-rich, is viewed very favorably by Google's infamous algorithms. However, to aid in the "skim" process,it is very important to use short paragraphs and bullet lists. Paragraphs longer than a couple sentences or so will send viewers somewhere else.
The Site's Main Image: 5.94 seconds
Social Media Icons:5.95 seconds
The Bottom of a Website: 5.25 seconds
Other results from the study:
Color: Color influences the impression viewers derive from a website. Participants in the study were more engaged with websites that used pleasant colors and which used text that was easy to read and which had an appropriate contrast with the background.
Images:Participants were more engaged with web pages that used nice images. ( I also know that viewers are also more engaged with images of people, particularly images that are NOT stock photos - the kind bought from online picture warehouses).
Make sure that your website effectively addresses these areas. Consult a web designer whose focus is on EFFECTIVE web design and layout - not simply knowing how to create a website (there are A LOT of those out there).