"Your Website is so dull it makes my eyes bleed"

A quirky designer I met today told me a story about a customer of his who had the most unattractive, unusable website on the net. My designer told me that, “the website wall so dull that it made my eyes bleed!”.
 
But does design actually play a big part in customer satisfaction? After all, most of us just want to find the information we want quickly without any hassle. Does design therefore play a big part in the usability argument?
 
Well, the truth is that studies indicate that design certainly does affect consumer behaviour. Western culture and ultimately (whether you believe in the G force or not), Google has defined what we think a good website looks like. 
 
Next time you search for something on Google, notice what you look at first and where your eyes gaze on the screen. The mighty Google has educated us that blue underlined on a link equals a click and statistically we always look to the top left hand corner first to view website logos.
 
Branding and layout online is therefore critical if you a) want to attract customers but b) want them to keep engaging with you. My design friend gave me these five basic rules:
 
1. Keep the logo on the top left – after all people look there first
 
2. Use no more than 2 key colours on the page and use images sparsely
 
3. Do link in one primary colour, preferably blue but keep the links to no more than 2 or 3 per page
 
4. Don’t overuse red, but use it carefully to draw the eye to the 'Call to Action'
 
5. Keep your website in a grid structure – this makes it easy on the eye and simple to navigate