TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Internet Users Judge Web Sites Quickly

Internet Users Judge Web Sites Quickly

Kamakshi Tandon (
Tue, 17 Jan 2006 21:25:32 -0600

Internet users judge Web sites in less than a blink
By Kamakshi Tandon

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

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 visually.

"If the first impression is negative, you'll probably drive people

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

They also matched the responses given by subjects who were shown the
sites for longer.

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 variety."

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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