An article published over at Nature.com confirms that we humans DO generally judge books, and web sites, by their covers.
Basically, first-time visitors arriving from search engine will decide in only 50 milliseconds whether or not your site is worth their time.
Here's what Michael Hopkin had to report:
“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 Technology1. Instead they found that impressions were made in the first 50 milliseconds of viewing.”
So, does your site suffer from long load times? Sick colors? Graphic mania? It might be time to read more…