In 2005, the Internet became available to one billion people worldwide with about 845 million people using it regularly (Emarketer, 2006). The United States has one of the largest Internet populations with 175.4 million online users (Weisman, 2006). It is estimated the Internet is used by 80% of advertisers and it is projected that 90% of them will adopt the Internet for advertising by 2008. Effective Web site design is essential in online advertising and in attracting and maintaining consumers’ interest. Many organizations include a Web site as part of their advertising and media mix (Arens, 2006; Geissler, Zinkham, & Watson, 2006). Web design experts assert that interface features and designs influence a site’s traffic and sales. Although there are no definite guidelines for successful Web site designs, some important constructs related to effectiveness are (1) page design, (2) navigation, (3) color usage, (4) graphics and typeface, (5) content, and (6) online advertising (Arens, 2006; Kovarik, 2002; Song & Zahedi, 2005; Van Duyne, Landay, & Hong, 2003).
An online site’s home page creates an initial impression of the company’s Web site and of the company itself (Geissler, Zinkhan, & Watson, 2006; Singh, Dalal, & Spears, 2005). It is critical to gain viewers’ attention and interest upon entrance to the home page. A home page should communicate “who you are, what you offer, and what’s inside (the Web site)” (Geissler, Zinkhan, & Watson, 2006, p. 71). Additionally, first impressions of the site are essential in establishing online relationships. A Web page is unlikely to trigger approach behavior unless it is rich in exploration possibilities (Singh, Dalal, & Spears, 2005). Furthermore, a company’s contact information or a link to a separate contact page is considered an essential element in the home page (Geissler, Zinkhan, & Watson, 2006). Viewers perceive home pages as incomplete if all of the essential information is not provided up front.
Some of the primary elements of a home page should include consideration of content, page length, links, graphics, text, and animation (Geissler, Zinkhan, & Watson, 2006). Experts advocate uncluttered screen design. Designers should keep copy short; cast informative headlines; use headings, highlighting, and color copy as visual cues; make use of white space; and employ interface consistency. The copy for each menu item should be bright, and phrases should be brief and have color.