First impressions count

When it comes to selling yourself, it is important to make a good first impression. It’s something I’m particularly aware of at the moment, after doing the round of University open days with my daughter.

It was frightening how often she, and her friends, were completely put off a course – or a University – by one introductory lecture. And I’m not talking content here. My daughter is still set on the subject she wants to study. She was put off simply by the delivery of the lecture and her impression of the person delivering it.

One person. One lecture. And a life choice is made.

It’s an issue that has a big impact online, where potential customers can click or swipe themselves away in less than a second and, more often than not, do just that.

A certain amount of bounce is inevitable – some users will have come to your website by accident – but many readers move on because they are immediately put off by something on the page or in the content. They get the wrong first impression.

Luckily, that is something that you can put right. Simple things to watch out for include:

  • Your formatting – it is always worth checking your work after it has been posted on the site. The formatting may not have come through properly, making the page look unprofessional and hard to read.
  • Your language – unless you are writing for a select, informed group, make sure that you use plain, easy-to-understand language. Limit jargon and explain acronyms.
  • Spacing – long paragraphs are a no-no online. Aim to have paragraphs no more than 6 or 7 lines long, otherwise you risk having dense chunks of text that will instantly put the reader off.
  • Images and graphs – these break up the text even more, but watch that they don’t increase the download speed too much. Your reader will not wait around for long.

And finally, don’t let your content follow the lines of one music lecture that my daughter and I attended, in which the lecturer wasted 15 minutes by blowing his own trumpet. Literally.

Think about what your reader wants to read, rather than what you want to sell. Inform him and your expertise will do the selling for you.

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