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In my last article, we introduced the factors that combine to create a great website, and why no one should accept anything but that. Let’s start going into detail now.


Certainly the first thing we notice when we see a webpage – particularly in that first blink of the eye when our minds make decisions about what we see even before we’re aware of it – is it’s design.

The vast majority of information we humans gather about the world around us is visual. Our brains are designed to process information quickly and vision is our number one sense.

According the the Stanford University Web Credibility Research Department, 75% of users make judgements about a company’s credibility based on its web design. 94% of a website user’s first impressions were found to be design-related.


Web design relies on certain principles to boost performance and cause a web page to be effective in achieving its intended purpose.

Examples of these principles are color theory, use of contrast, space, alignment, proximity, and repetition. Then there are the neuroscientific factors of visual hierarchy, attention triggers, memory magnets and decision drivers.

Many good designers rely on the the first set of principles. Few are aware of or use the second, but they are both vital.


Many, many pundits pound out the idea that your website must load (appear) quickly. Many people use this as a reason to fault a website.

I agree… within reason. While it is true that the longer it takes for a page to load, the more likely is that the visitors will leave before it loads, splitting hairs over fractions of a second is ridiculous.

The average loading time for websites is now about 8.5 seconds. That’s a long time. Your web page should load in 3 to 4 seconds or less – less for a mobile site (website viewed on a phone or tablet).

Causing someone to wait too long will kill the experience for them (or for you if they give up waiting!), but let’s face it: if forced to wait one extra second, if the site is well designed according to the principles above, the wait will be considered worthwhile.

A great website will balance good visual design and a quick page load speed, and not sacrifice either one for the other.

I’ll be getting to the next factors in great websites in my following articles, or you can email us at hello@21thirteen.com or call us at 646 808 0249 to find out more. Thanks for reading!