This is how long it takes visitors who land on your homepage or landing page to form a first impression of your website (See the study referenced below). Most new visitors arrive through a search engine with a specific requirement, and select your website based on your search engine listing, along with any number of other “competitive” websites.
True to human nature, you scan, so if you don’t see what you are looking for almost immediately, off to the next website, and so on until one website catches your eye and you investigate further. At least this is what I normally do.
So why is a first impression important?
This “first impression” creates either a positive or a negative feeling, based on some key conscious and subconscious factors. A Positive impression will result in a visitor willing to spend a bit more time on your site where you have the opportunity to “convert” this visitor to a customer.
On the other hand, a negative impression can have two results – the visitor is gone or this negative feeling is carried throughout the visit of the site creating a halo effect, that is, a doubt in the mind of the visitor that is much harder to overcome. Consequently, it becomes much harder to convert this visitor to a customer. The halo effect works both ways, if positive, a visitor is more likely to forgive minor transgressions, if negative however, the visitor is more likely to try to prove that the site is not up to their expectations, no matter how small the proof is.
People who land on your site and stay, indicates that you have not only hit the right key words, but the impression made by your site is positive – that is the person is willing to spend time on your site since it looks promising.
People who leave from the same page (visits of 10 seconds or less) probably didn’t see what they were looking for, regardless of the fact that delving into the site could be exactly what they wanted. So the question remains, how can I make that positive first impression, or more importantly does my current website create a positive first impression?
How do you know if your site creates a positive first impression?
Since you can’t stop and ask those visitors that leave why, one must use different approaches. Of course, you can ask your web developer for their first impression – that will get you an honest answer I bet (yeah right, as my kids would say). What you really need, in the absence of being able to ask real visitors, are objective inputs from sample first time visitors who are not familiar with your organization.
So how do you find someone who will be objective, not want to push additional “services” such as web design or hosting and affordable? I am glad you asked since my company Web-Insight provides such services. If all you want is a quick First Impression, we also offer a no frills Fast Track version.
What are the benefits?
Your organization probably has done usability testing, conversion analysis, SEO and key word analysis, but none of this directly focuses on that all-important first impression, although if done properly will have an impact, but you still need to measure what that is. If you can create a positive first impression then those new visitors will have a much better experience and you can improve the ratio of visitors to customers.
If you are thinking about starting a renewal process, then this is the right place to start, since it will give you an indication of what your current website is telling your visitors and also helps you determine what to keep and what needs to go.
Another reason to perform a first impression evaluation is to assess the impact of the dreaded strategic drift that occurs when your website strategy has moved away from that of your organization. This occurs through many small updates and changes made over a period of time that are not linked to the big picture. Realignment of your corporate and website strategy is essential to your optimize your user experience and improving your first impressions.
The study I was referring to is:
Attention web designers: You have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression!
GITTE LINDGAARD, GARY FERNANDES, CATHY DUDEK and J. BROWN
Human-Oriented Technology Lab, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
Three studies were conducted to ascertain how quickly people form an opinion about web page visual appeal. In the first study, participants twice rated the visual appeal of web homepages presented for 500ms each. The second study replicated the first, but participants also rated each web page on seven specific design dimensions. Visual appeal was found to be closely related to most of these. Study 3 again replicated the 500ms condition as well as adding a 50ms condition using the same stimuli to determine whether the first impression
may be interpreted as a ‘mere exposure effect’ (Zajonc 1980). Throughout, visual appeal ratings were highly correlated from one phase to the next as were the correlations between
the 50ms and 500ms conditions. Thus, visual appeal can be assessed within 50ms,
suggesting that web designers have about 50 ms to make a good first impression.
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