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L'impact de l'esthétisme sur la crédibilité d'un site Web

The impact of visual aesthetics on website credibility

March 12, 2018By Marc-Olivier Noël

Just for a moment, put yourself in the place of your target clientele: When searching the web, for the same product or service, 3 websites propose similar advantages (price, delivery time, etc.). Which one will you choose? Most likely, it will be the website creating the greatest sense of consumer confidence.

Generally speaking, website users accord a higher level of credibility when the site is visually attractive. This affirmation has been shown time and time again in the past through trustworthy research coming notably from Fogg and Robins. The effect of design on credibility is also important when we consider that it takes users less than 4 seconds to judge a website’s credibility1.

How to increase business confidence

Design appreciation is relative to an individual’s personal judgment. The complexity of design work is creating an attractive visual that will appeal to the target clientele. It is one of the reasons that designers must adapt each of their projects to the previously identified public target audience. The more clearly defined the marketing communication objectives and types of users are, the easier it is for designers to create effective visuals adapted to client needs. Though there is no miracle recipe, various studies allow us to identify key design elements judged to be superior over others.

Web image, an integral part of the overall brand image

The website must communicate the company’s brand image. Consistency between the website aesthetics and physical points of sale reassures users that the company truly exists. In addition, a high-quality design suggests that the company is doing well financially, another factor that boosts user confidence regarding website content.

Beware of low-quality photos

We must not overlook the quality of photographs: pixelated (low definition) or low-quality images give the impression that the company is not oriented to details or quality.

The key to website credibility: uniform design

It is also crucial to attain a minimum level of uniformity among page elements to create a sense of unity. Harmonizing fonts, colours and layout allows for attractive visual appeal to the eye, whereas the contrasts and dominance of certain elements versus others aim to capture users attention2. A website reaching this level of unity is judged as more credible by a large majority of web users.

4 seconds to judge website credibility… what happens next?

Though it is necessary to make a good impression in those first 4 seconds, the level of credibility must be maintained throughout the visit. A website offering aesthetic design continuity (same layout from page to page, position of navigational menus, colour consistency, hyperlinks and font choices, etc.) increases the user’s visual quality perception2. Rhythm, simplicity and symmetry are other elements that help increase a website’s visual appeal and create a sentiment of continuity throughout the navigational experience.

While seeking to maintain high-quality aesthetics, designers must not trade ease of use for design elements. They must find the perfect balance between attracting or redirecting user attention.

A few quick tips for an efficient website

  • A website offering simple visual appeal is perceived as much more credible.
  • An abundance of graphic elements could create usability and navigational issues3.
  • A navigational system that is too complex is likely to discourage users.
  • A beautiful website gives the impression of being easy to use4.

A good impression goes beyond your offer

The decision to purchase goes beyond price and services offered: it is first and foremost about consumer confidence in the retailer. Your internet visibility must reinforce the user’s feeling of confidence. One way to achieve this is by creating a simple, yet uniform, graphic layer offering high-quality visual elements.

Design is the first thing users notice when they arrive on a site and they judge the site’s credibility within 4 seconds. It is thus very important to pay particular attention to the image we want our website to project. As the popular saying goes "You only have one chance to make a great first impression!"


  1. ROBINS, D. et HOLMES, J. (2007). "Aesthetics and Credibility in Web Site Design", Information Processing & Management, 44 (1), p. 386-399.
  2. 2FARAH, A. et CASEY, M. (2009). "The effect of æsthetics on web credibility", British Computer Society Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, p. 512-519.
  3. FOGG, J. M. et al. (2001). "What Make Web Sites Credible", CHI 2001, 3 (1), p. 61-68.
  4. SONDEREGGER, A. et SAUER, J. "The influence of design æsthetics in usability testing: Effects on user performance and perceived usability", Applied Ergonomics, 41, p. 403-410.