Blinking at the Web

Summary:Malcom Gladwell wrote in Blink that we often form snap judgements and they're often wrong.  Now, researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa have determined that people decide a Web site's worth in 50 milliseconds--about the length of time that one frame of a TV show is on the screen.

Malcom Gladwell wrote in Blink that we often form snap judgements and they're often wrong.  Now, researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa have determined that people decide a Web site's worth in 50 milliseconds--about the length of time that one frame of a TV show is on the screen.

Researchers at Ottawa's Carleton University found that web surfers decide the worth of a site in a mere 50 milliseconds.

"People make up their mind very, very quickly about how much they like what they see," said Gitte Lindgaard, one of the study's authors.

The result underscores what we already know in our gut: the way a Web site looks matters...a lot.  There's no way in 50 milliseconds that someone can judge the content, so it's strictly about visual appeal. 

What's more, users don't usually change their opinion after the initial snap judgment.  Instead they look for reasons to justify their decision. 

The bad news is that the Carleton researchers still don't know exactly what it is about the sites in their study that caused people to make judgments one way or another.

The Carleton lab's next project is to pinpoint the elements that make a website appealing to users.

"We've been trying to figure out from these web pages whether there were any commonalities between the ones that were liked . . . We really haven't found an awful lot," said Lindgaard.

I think part of the power of links, especially on blogs where the reader has a trusted relationship with the writer, is that they head this tendency off at the pass.  When one of my favorite blog writers points me to something, I go the looking to find the value that someone else found.  

Topics: Browser

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