By: Daniel Sweeney On: January 30, 2013 In: Advertising & Marketing Comments: 0


In 2013, the most highly visible and static representation of your company is no longer your marquee or even your billboard on side of the perpetually crowded Dallas North Tollway – it’s your website. Your website is now a digital storefront that, when properly designed and optimized, should walk your customers and Web users through the decision-making process.

The always important first impression takes on even greater significance in Web design. Obviously, an effective homepage is critical to the success of your website, it should capture and hold the attention of every visitor and prospective customer.

In less than 50 milliseconds, users build an initial “gut feeling” that helps them decide whether they’ll stay or leave. This first impression depends on many factors: structure, colors, spacing, symmetry, amount of text, fonts, and more.Google Research.

More staggering statistics?  According to a recent eye-tracking study done at Missouri University of Science and Technology, it takes roughly 2.6 seconds for a user’s eyes to find an area of a website that most influences their first impression. (PR Daily)

That same study identifies seven key areas of a website that most draw in a visitor: logo, main navigation menu, search box, social networking links, main image, written content and the bottom of the website.

While content is key in retention, Web users form design opinions about your site in just 17 (!) milliseconds – again, putting even more weight into your site’s visual appeal. (ConversionXL)

Milliseconds. MILLISECONDS!

What can we take away from studies like these without being overwhelmed by the mere fractions of a second we have to make a first impression on prospective customer?

The Google study cited above identifies the two design factors that most influenced users’ first impressions:

1. Visual Complexity
2. Prototypicality

Specifically, researchers found that users were more likely to prefer sites with simpler, familiar design over sites with complex, unconventional design.

Read more about the fascinating study over at Google’s Research Blog.