Internet users judge sites in less than a blink
Updated: 2006-01-18 08:55
Internet users can give Web sites a thumbs up or thumbs down in less than the
blink of an eye, according to a study by Canadian researchers.
In just a brief one-twentieth of a second -- less than half the time it takes
to blink -- people make aesthetic judgments that influence the rest of their
experience with an Internet site.
The study was published in the latest issue of the Behavior and Information
Technology journal. The author said the findings had powerful implications for
the field of Web site design.
"It really is just a physiological response," Gitte Lindgaard told Reuters on
Tuesday. "So Web designers have to make sure they're not offending users
"If the first impression is negative, you'll probably drive people off."
In the study, researchers discovered that people could rate the visual appeal
of sites after seeing them for just one-twentieth of a second. These judgments
were not random, the researchers found -- sites that were flashed up twice were
given similar ratings both times.
They also matched the responses given by subjects who were shown the sites
But the results did not show how to win a positive reaction from users, said
Lindgaard, a psychology professor at Carleton University in Ottawa. "When we
looked at the Web sites that we tested, there is really nothing there that tells
us what leads to dislike or to like."
And while further research may offer more clues, she said the vagaries of
personal taste would always be a limiting factor.
"If design were reducible to a set of principles, wouldn't we find an awful
lot of similar houses, gardens, cars, rooms?" said Lindgaard. "You'd have no