Study shows how online first impressions are made

Posted by Justin Hesser on March 20, 2012

It's widely considered that first impressions are very important when meeting new people and – for small business owners – potential customers. But, research done by the Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST) shows that these first impressions extend to websites as well.

According to MST's study, it takes internet browsers less than two-tenths of a second to make a first impression of a website. It takes about 2.6 seconds for a user's eyes to reach an area of a website that creates the greatest influence on the user. The university mapped the eye movements of 20 students as they perused the main websites of 25 different law schools.

The study found that internet users spent 6.48 seconds on the website's logo, 6.44 seconds on the navigation bar, a little over six seconds on the search box, and then between 5.95 and 5.35 seconds on social networking links, the site's main image, written content and then the bottom of the site respectively.

Entrepreneur recently posted their recommended ways for small businesses to revamp their website, and most of these changes play on the areas that MST's subjects focused on while visiting websites.

Entrepreneur states that in order for businesses to get the best out of their websites they should focus on simplification, attention to details, having modern designs and creating dynamic content. Of those aspects of web design, all but one have to do with the cosmetic characteristics that create first impressions.

Entrepreneur says that companies should simplify their websites to just a simple call to action. Small businesses should also focus on making sure there aren't any functional problems each time the website gets updated, which often come out in the details. Entrepreneur also states that seeking a modern design for a website is a great way to express a dynamic and evolving company that "reflects your company's current direction and attitude."

Regardless of the company, seeking a software developer to create a custom site can help maximize its first impressions.