Internet users make up their minds about the quality of a website in the blink of an eye, a study shows.
It takes less than 50 milliseconds to decide if you like a website
Researchers found that the brain makes decisions in just a twentieth of a second of viewing a webpage.
They were surprised as they believed it would take at least 10 times longer to form an opinion.
The study, published in the journal Behaviour and
Information Technology, also suggests that first impressions have a
The Canadian team showed volunteers glimpses of websites, lasting for only 50 milliseconds.
The volunteers then had to rate the websites in terms of their aesthetic appeal.
The researchers found that the speedily formed
conclusions closely tallied with opinions of the websites that had been
made after much longer periods of examination.
Gitte Lindgaard of Carleton University in Ottawa,
Canada, and lead researcher of the paper expressed her surprise at the
"My colleagues believed it would be impossible to really
see anything in less than 500 milliseconds," she told the website of
the Nature journal, which reported the research.
The judgements were being formed almost as quickly as the eye can take in information.
The researchers also believe that these quickly-formed
first impressions last because of what is known to psychologists as the
If people believe a website looks good, then this positive quality will spread to other areas, such as the website's content.
Since people like to be right, they will continue to use
the website that made a good first impression, as this will further
confirm that their initial decision was a good one.
As websites increasingly jostle for business, Dr Lindgaard added that companies should take note.
"Unless the first impression is favourable, visitors
will be out of your site before they even know that you might be
offering more than your competitors," she warned.