July 08, 2009

How good is your Website? Do the 50 millisecond test



When we visit a website, we approach it from two viewpoints – the technical aspects and the emotional or aesthetic appearance of the site. Content falls under the technical aspect, which is of prime importance in sustaining a website. But what is even more important is the aesthetics. It helps you to get your reader hooked to your website. According to researchers at Carleton University in Canada, Web users form their first impressions about Web pages in as little as 50 milliseconds (1/20th of a second)! And this first impression is often a critical decision maker for purchases through the website.

As a Web developer, you should always keep in mind that you just have 50 milliseconds to captivate your user. Users make instant judgements about a site’s visual appeal, and this instantaneous positive or negative gut reaction, carries throughout the duration of his/ her experience on that site.

So here are a few things you should keep in mind when creating a webpage:

• Your audience prefers to view a website as if it were a picture which looks balanced and pleasing; hence the page background needs to be subdued so it they acts as a frame for the text and graphics. Colors and fonts should fit in with the theme of the site, and not stand out on their own

• Keep your web pages short. They load quicker and the probability that your target reader will actually go through the content increases.

• Avoid filling your pages with “clutter”. Keep some area of the background visible so the pages don’t look like they are overflowing with trivia, like a “junk” drawer

• Colour is another important aspect which has to be considered. Choose colors that create emotional feelings that are in harmony with the theme of your website. (e.g., yellow represents positive feelings like happy, sunny, cheerful; while grey represents overcast, gloom, and depression)

The Internet is accessed by millions of people daily, and results of physiological and psychological studies on Web users are within our reach. It’s always best to follow these directions while creating a new website or modifying an existing one. Most importantly, never give in to uninformed judgement and create an unattractive websites which may be highly informative and functional, but creates a negative first impression on the user.
Go for a clean website, sans the frills (like animated icons, graphical links, or clip art) and include elements that appeal to your target audience (soft colours for baby products and brighter themes for teens), and more than half your job is done.

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