Nov 3, 201401:22 PMIt's All About Content
with Thomas Marks
How long does it take visitors to pass judgment on your website?
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The wonderfully gifted Will Rogers famously said, “You’ll never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” Corny? Yes. Overused? Yes. True? Mostly.
I was slogging my way through a Harvard research study titled Predicting Users’ First Impressions of Website Aesthetics With a Quantification of Perceived Visual Complexity and Colorfulness — hey, they’re researchers not copywriters — when I got the harebrained idea to really take a long, hard look at the people who claim that we pass judgment about a website in seven seconds, or four seconds, or the blink of an eye. I’ve used statistics like this time and again, but now it’s time to see if these researchers are heretics, gadflies, and charlatans.
They’re not. Harvard, by all accounts, is a reputable institution. Its researchers might not possess the ability to draft engaging titles for their studies — in fact, this one is downright off-putting — but I do trust their findings. The most important revelation in the Harvard study is that it verified many of the studies prior to it that have clearly found that first impressions regarding a website can literally be measured in milliseconds.
I also found it interesting that adults 45 and older preferred sites with low visual complexity, and that study participants found the websites of Webby Award winners no more appealing than websites that were not award winners.