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Start the Stopwatch: You Have 50 Milliseconds to Make a Good First Impression

According to research reported on in, “Potential readers can make snap decisions in just 50 milliseconds”. And I thought you had 30 seconds or less to make a good impression. I guess web users make snap judgments faster.

Like the look of our website? Whatever the answer (and hopefully it was yes), the chances are you made your mind up within the first twentieth of a second. A study by researchers in Canada has shown that the snap decisions Internet users make about the quality of a web page have a lasting impact on their opinions.

We all know that first impressions count, but this study shows that the brain can make flash judgements almost as fast as the eye can take in the information. The discovery came as a surprise to some experts. “My colleagues believed it would be impossible to really see anything in less than 500 milliseconds,” says Gitte Lindgaard of Carleton University in Ottawa, who has published the research in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology. Instead they found that impressions were made in the first 50 milliseconds of viewing.

That’s really fast.

What do you do when you are up against such an amazingly short time limit? This is where your web page design plays a critical role. It must either immediate convey what your blog is about or time’s up!

The research report explained what is the best overall web page design.

… Caudron suggests that the amount of graphics on the page should be strictly limited, perhaps to a single eye-catching image. “It’s not about getting as much stuff on the page as possible,” he says.

These days, enlightened web users want to see a “puritan” approach, Caudron adds. It’s about getting information across in the quickest, simplest way possible. For this reason, many commercial websites now follow a fairly regular set of rules. For example, westerners tend to look at the top-left corner of a page first, so that’s where the company logo should go. And most users also expect to see a search function in the top right.

Of course, says Caudron, the other golden rule is to make sure that your web pages load quickly, otherwise your customers might not stick around long enough to make that coveted first impression. “That can be the difference between big business and no business,” he says.

A “puritan” look is one that is clean and clear with the emphasis put upon content not clutter. Hmm, reminds you of a running theme in most WordPress Themes, right? WordPress users are so lucky to have so many forward thinking designers putting together really clean and simple Themes for users to choose from.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen


  1. Neeraj
    Posted January 24, 2006 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Amazing !! 50 milliseconds !!

    You thought 30 seconds and I put it to reading the first post !!!

  2. mike
    Posted April 26, 2007 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    This was very interesting to read, and it all seems pretty true, I know i do all of those things =p

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] If your tag doesn’t lead to the information they are seeking, you have just wasted their time. It is nice to think that for a second you might have broadened their browsing experience, gave them a change to giggle and grin in the dimly lit room from which they enter the Internet world. The truth is that they have taken one glance, realized you don’t have what they want, and click, they are gone. You didn’t get much of a chance to expand their browsing experience. Few people do time-wasting browsing, randomly poking around. Yes, some do, but most people are out on the hunt. […]

  2. […] Start the Stopwatch: You Have 50 Milliseconds to Make a Good First Impression […]

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