With a mere three seconds to impress (or at least not scare away) prospects, your website has got to look good. Take these five tips into consideration the next time you decide to spruce up your website:

White space. White space is not the same as wasted space. According to the 20th century modern-design pioneer Jan Tschichold, “White space is to be regarded as an active element, not a passive background.” Little did he know, decades later someone would conduct a study to prove his point. A 2004 academic study concluded that white space can increase reader comprehension by almost 20 percent. If your website layout doesn’t make good use of white space, your visitors will have a harder time focusing on your message. 

F is for eFFective.Ideally, your written content should loosely follow an F-shaped pattern. In 2010, the Nielsen Norman Group performed an eye tracking study to see how website visitors interacted with text on the screen. They found that readers’ eye movements generally tracked in the shape of an F. After making two horizontal eye movements from left to right, they then scanned down the rest of the page. So for the most effective layout, place essential information about your advisory firm in the first two lines or paragraphs. Also, make sure your content is straightforward and easy to scan, as hardly anyone reads word for word anymore.

To the left, to the left. The Nielsen Norman Group also found that our eyes tend to prefer the left side of the page or screen, regardless of the type of content, by a factor of two. When laying out your website, keep your most important images to the left, such as your logo, calls-to-action, etc.

Make sense. Don’t forget that your layout needs to make logical as well as visual sense. You may have plenty of white space. Your text may be in the shape of an F with your most important buttons lined up on the left. But if your “About Me” is hiding on the third page, at the bottom a lengthy drop-down menu labeled “Services,” you’re going to frustrate your visitors. And unfortunately, they’ll transfer those feelings of frustration onto you personally.

Every page is a landing page. Layout every page as if it’s a landing page (within reason). Landing pages are designed to make your website visitors take one specific action, whether that be downloading an e-book or scheduling a meeting. Obviously your homepage has a few more jobs it needs to do, but you should strive for the “less is more” approach. Don’t overwhelm your prospects with too many things to do or they won’t do anything.

You have a very small window of time to capture your website visitors’ attention. So remember: Good design may be invisible, but it’s extremely important to your success.

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