For most businesses in 2016, a customer's first impression doesn't necessarily come from when they enter a shop – it comes from the online space.

First impressions are incredibly important when it comes to business, which is why companies put so much thought and effort into designing the perfect shopping experience and hiring the right people; but in 2016 the same amount of effort needs to be pumped into the online space.

Arguably, the most important online channel is a company's website. This will be the main source of information for customers and so needs to deliver a positive user experience. When it comes to designing a website, research suggests businesses have only ten seconds in which to leave a good first impression – that's a shockingly short amount of time, so what can be done?

1. Load times

It is so important that a website loads quickly, especially given the short amount of time in which to leave a good first impression. If a website takes even five seconds to load that could leave a negative impact, so be sure the landing page is clean, simple and able to load quickly or risk putting off potential customers.

2. Responsiveness

It is also essential that websites be accessible from a number of different devices – this means desktop, mobile, tablets and all screen sizes in-between. Ensuring responsiveness will ensure more happy customers no matter where they are accessing the site from; and having quick load times across all devices will also help with engagement.

3. Attractive design

Using crazy colours, flashing images and having a generally cluttered and confused appearance will put customers off. A website should be easy to understand and not put visitors off due to a headache-inducing design. Be sure to incorporate company colours, logos and taglines, but try to do so in a way that doesn't overwhelm visitors.

4. Easy navigation

Along with keeping a website easy on the eyes, navigation around the site should be kept easy, too. Once a customer opens the homepage it should be obvious where they need to click for more product or service details, contact information or exclusive company offers, for example. Including a call-to-action is also good practice, but don't make it the first thing customers see.

5. Introductory information

The content included on a website homepage should also be engaging and informative – but not overwhelming. Customers need to get a sense of the company, what can be found on the website and be engaged enough to want to find out more. An optional introductory video can be a good method of doing this, featured alongside a brief but interesting written paragraph.

Does your website adhere to the above rules for leaving a positive first impression? If not, it may need an overhaul! Get in touch to speak to us about your travel website requirements.