Less than 3 Seconds!
According to research conducted at Missouri University of Science and Technology, it takes under three seconds to form a first impression when someone lands on your website.
“We know first impressions are very important,” says Dr. Hong Sheng, assistant professor of business and information technology at Missouri S&T. “As more people use the Internet to search for information, a user’s first impressions of a website can determine whether that user forms a favorable or unfavorable view of that organization.”
A major factor
First impressions are a major factor in whether a person remains on a website long enough to find what they’re looking for or long enough to take an action like buying something or calling a phone number. A poor first impression drives away potential customers.
Using eye-tracking software and an infrared camera, the researchers monitored college students’ eye movements as they scanned the web pages. They then analyzed the eye-tracking data to determine how long it took for the students to focus on specific sections of a page — such as the menu, logo, images and social media icons — before they moved on to another section.
It took 2.6 seconds for the students to scan and then focus on an item on the web page, where they formed initial impressions. The item they first focused on was fixated on for less than 2 tenths of a second before their eyes moved on to other items on the page.
After rating the sites, analysis showed that students stayed longer on the pages that they scored more highly for their first impression. That’s not surprising, but indicates that first impressions have a strong impact on how long a person is willing to view or read a web page.
The elements on the page that drew students’ focus and displayed the greatest interest were these, in order of attention time:
- The website’s logo.
- Equally important was the main navigation menu, whether horizontally along the top of vertically down the left side of the page.
- The search box, if there was one.
- Social networking links to sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
- The site’s main image, if there was one
- The site’s written content.
- The bottom border or footer of the page.
One thing that wasn’t focused on during this study was banner ads, but that’s a topic for another blog post.
Bill Treloar is the owner and principal SEO consultant at Rank Magic. Bill holds a bachelors degree in psychology, an MBA in management, and has wide experience managing both technical (information technology) and non-technical (insurance and marketing) organizations. Bill has been president of the New York Enterprise Developer Users Group,… View full profile
This article originally appeared on Rank Magic Blog and has been republished with permission.