Website first impressions – you have just 0.05 seconds to impress

We’ve all heard that it takes just a few seconds for someone to decide if they like you. But research shows that actually we make our minds up far faster. In the era of the Tinder speed swipe, it takes just a tenth of a second to decide if we find someone attractive, and longer exposures don’t tend to change our minds. Websites have even less time to engage our attention.

Sadly, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Make a bad one and your readers will simply bounce away to a competitor’s site. In just 50 milliseconds a reader, and a potential customer, will make a split decision whether to stay or leave your page. (Source: Google research)

First impressions are 94% design related.

Source: Research Gate

It makes sense, we’re visual creatures. Back in 2000 there was a TV programme called ‘Child of our time’ presented by Dr Winston. He said that the most important thing you can do to help a child starting school, is to make them look symmetrical. That’s because young children gravitate towards the most attractive kids, judging looks before words and actions. An appreciation for social niceties and manners comes later.

We all understand the importance of making a good first impression. We dress well, we smile and we make sure we’re clean and tidy for that first meeting; which is sensible, because research suggests that those first impressions are when we start to determine traits like trustworthiness.

Your brand needs to be trustworthy to be relevant. So it’s vital to address any design issues quickly. For some people, visual appeal even beats usability when it comes to making a good first impression and building trust.

Reduce bounce rates and boost trustworthiness

We employ visual cues to inform and support a brand’s trustworthiness:

  • Websites with low visual complexity are most appealing (this can also help with load speed, another important factor in first impressions). Simple layouts, with good spacing, a clear structure, plenty of white space and consistent typefaces help to guide the eye. Symmetry also helps to create a well balanced page.
  • Your logo should be clearly visible with space around it.
  • Use professional images and video to catch the eye.
  • Avoid hectic colour schemes (by sticking to 2 or 3 colours from your brand palette at most) and unnecessary pop-ups.
  • Keep content concise and useful. Remember people scroll, so break information into bite-sized pieces with clear headings.
  • Avoid clutter, don’t put too much on a page.
  • Have a clear, consistent hierarchy.
  • Websites which feel familiar are more appealing, for instance consumers expect e-commerce sites to look and work a certain way, surprises reduce trust and slow down engagement.

A well designed page is like putting on a suit for an interview. It shows you take pride in what you do and have been willing to invest in it. But still users bounce, so what can be done? For starters, don’t be late for the interview! The load speed of your website will affect your Google ranking making it less likely users will find you in the first place. And even if a user does make it onto your site, they might not wait around for long.

Most users leave a website after 10-20 seconds

Some users bounce away from a webpage immediately, most leave within 10-20 seconds. That doesn’t give you long to showcase your products or services. So, how do you turn initial impact into engagement?

If your site looks good you can still improve user-experience with faster loading times, easy navigation and by ensuring your site is responsive.

  • Globally, 68.1% of all website visits in 2020 came from mobile devices and 60% don’t return to sites that aren’t responsive. (Sources: Perficient Inc & Medium)
  • Visitors could bounce before they’ve even seen your beautiful design. More than half of your mobile visitors won’t wait more that 3 seconds for your site to load.
  • Check your site for broken links and missing pages.
  • Make sure users know what to do next with a clear call to action.
  • Don’t neglect the bottom of the page. Over 40% of users will leave a company’s website if they can’t find any contact details. (Source: Inc.)

Around 85% of adults want the mobile version of a website to look and feel as good as or better than the desktop version.

Source: Inside Design

Content matters

It’s easy to think that as most websites aren’t copy heavy, anyone can write them. But there’s more to it than talking about your products and services or understanding SEO.

  • Focus on dwell time rather than page views. Creating quality content is more important than quantity because Google cares about how deeply people navigate into your site, whether they hit the back button, and worst of all, whether they return to the search results page because they can’t find what they’re looking for.
  • Make sure your most important message comes across straight away, don’t bury key information and highlight your most engaging content.
  • Pages with a clear value proposition hold a reader’s attention for longer. Your words should appeal to the user’s primary emotional need, it is the reason they landed on your website. What problem can you solve? What’s in it for them?

Internet users have an attention span of 8 seconds when it comes to browsing.

Source: Medium

Most websites have a 26-70%bounce rate

A high bounce rate indicates a problem with your website, and could lead to poor engagement. (Source: RocketFuel) You can check your site’s bounce rate with Google’s Analytics Dashboard – aim for a rate between 26-40%.

If your bounce rate is over 56% you may want to revisit your website’s design and performance to create a stronger first impression. If you’d like some advice, we’re here to help.

Do you need help with your website? Get in touch – we’d love to help whether you’re building a website from scratch or need help improving your current website. Alternatively, for the latest digital and marketing news, take a look at our Articles page.