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It is very important to make a first impression when you have random visitors looking at your site. After all, your site is just one of millions of others on the internet. It is the job of the graphic design to capture interest and make the visitor want to see more. If you are able to capture their interest within the first three seconds that they are viewing your site, it is likely that they will stay or return at a later time. The more people that are impressed with your site, the more that will stay and purchase your product or use your service. This is the all-important conversion factor. High conversions equal high success.

The following is a list of guidelines that we will use to judge your website for graphic design. Each piece of criteria is followed by a brief explanation as to why it is important for your site. Certain features may automatically gain or lose points for your overall score.

Is the color palette on your site pleasing to the eyes of the target audience?

• The first thing that a visitor sees is the colors on a website. It is important that these colors reflect the mood of the site and appeal to the target audience.
• A site that is too bleak and colorless will detract visitors just as easily as one that is too loud or busy. The right combination is hard to find.
• Colors and fonts should be relatively consistent throughout the site to create continuity and flow.

Is the visual hierarchy of your site easily seen?

• The most important information should be the largest and closest to the stop. This should include headlines, products, keywords, and the company logo and tagline. Other information should decrease in size and position according to its overall importance.
• Information should be grouped into easily recognized segments based upon color coding of tabs, buttons, or tables. (+1 point)
• Using tabs is a great way to put a lot of information on the same template. These work well if designed convincingly. (+1 point)

Have you taken into account the average human attention span?

• If visitors can not decipher what is clickable from what is not, they will become easily frustrated and are likely to leave the site.
• Graphics should not slow down the load time of a site too much. (-1 point)
• The use of too many pull-down menus can hide information that should be readily available to visitors. If they can not find something easily, they will probably leave.

The use of images and graphics should enhance, not detract, from the overall appearance of the site

• Only use graphics if they fit...plain and simple.
• Graphics should not overwhelm the other information found on the page. They should be used to supplement what is already there.
• If you have several great images that you would like displayed but only a little space in which to display them, consider using a javascript to cycle through them. (+1 point)

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