First Impressions Matter When it Comes to Your Website

Will Etling
By Will Etling

Estimated read time: 1 minute, 43 seconds

Research shows that we judge websites just as we judge people: harshly and quickly.

We all make snap judgments. It takes about 1/10th of a second to cobble together a first impression about a person, and home pages are no different. It takes 50 milliseconds for users to form an opinion of your site. That’s 0.05 seconds. The blink of an eye, a snap of the fingers.

Looks matter

First impressions are 94% design related. Don’t get us wrong, quality content matters. But even the best content is rendered powerless when it’s embedded in poor design. Studies of user behavior have found that visual appeal and website navigation have the biggest influence on people’s first impressions of your brand.

We’ll get into the nuts and bolts—USPs, CTAs, A/B testing—in subsequent posts, but first the bones of your house must be solid.

Positive first impressions lead to higher satisfaction

The first glance a user gets from your site can have a priming effect on how they perceive future interactions with your business. Research shows that positive priming can boost user satisfaction and, as we all know, negative first impressions put significant drag on user satisfaction.

In other words, don’t be an obnoxious first date.

Don’t use inane stock photos. Don’t use messaging that could apply to scads of other companies. Avoid clichés. Use tried-and-true templates—users like the simplicity, familiarity, and navigation of established and trusted eCommerce sites. Think EtsyNike, and Sony.

First impressions can last for years

And there’s an abundance of research to prove it. This relevant study found that the NBA players’ careers are determined by their position in the draft, regardless of their on-court performance. And yet another study finds that subsequent impressions, no matter how contradictory, can never make up for the first impression.

There are no mulligans for first impressions.

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Will Etling

As a web developer on the FastSpring Marketing team, Will gets to combine his passion for great design and clean code. When he’s away from his laptop, you will find Will spending time with his family, enjoying the great outdoors, and surfing the chilly waters of the Central Coast.
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