Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye

Via Nature magazine comes this report of a study showing that users form an impression of a site within the first 50 milliseconds of seeing it. A response time much faster than anyone initially thought possible.

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.

It’s always been understood that a user’s initial impressions of a page are important, but it’s quite amazing to discover how just fast those impressions can be formed.