There’s a very popular article (according to NewsGator) at Nature.com today titled “Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye“. Even though you think you’re giving a website a chance by taking a good, long, hard look at it, chances are you’ve made up your mind in less than a second:
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.
Lindgaard and her team presented volunteers with the briefest glimpses of web pages previously rated as being either easy on the eye or particularly jarring, and asked them to rate the websites on a sliding scale of visual appeal. Even though the images flashed up for just 50 milliseconds, roughly the duration of a single frame of standard television footage, their verdicts tallied well with judgements made after a longer period of scrutiny.
The research is particularly interesting for website designers like myself. And students of visual design, for that matter. Chances are if someone likes your design better, they’re going to like the content better too. I know I am guilty of that. I hate reading a plain black and white HTML page with only text, but I don’t mind reading something that is styled attractively, even if the content is the same.
What’s your flash judgement on this site? Be honest now!