Quick Site Looks Can Kill

    January 16, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

A web site has 50 milliseconds to make a visual impression on visitors, as a study confirmed just how quickly the human brain could make a judgment.

After spending lots of money on site design, quality content, back-end integration, and search engine optimization to get high placement on Google, site publishers may be dismayed to know that users accept or dismiss them in 1/20th of a second.

Talk about short attention span theater.

Nature.com published an article stating the previously-thought time to judge of 500 milliseconds was as outdated as buggy whips. As quickly as people see a site, they’re judging it.

In discussing the research published by Gitte Lindgaard of Carleton University in Ottawa in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology, Nature revealed the awful truth for site publishers – users can tell great from grungy in a snap. Another person cited in the article made the point that looks can indeed kill:

For a typical commercial website, 60% of traffic comes from search engines such as Google, says Marc Caudron of London web-design agency Pod1. This makes a user’s first impression even more critical, he explains. “You’ll get a list of sites, click the top one, and then either say ‘I’ve engaged’ and give it a few more seconds, or just go back to Google,” he says.

Caudron suggested in the article site publishers limit the number of graphics on a page. Also, optimization for download speed should be a consideration. Less is more to impatient users who want to find information fast, fast, fast.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.