First impressions count. But the first 50 milliseconds?
 
A recent Canadian research study found that the snap judgments made by test subjects shown glimpses of Web pages -- 50 milliseconds, about the flash rate of a television screen -- were roughly the same as other subjects given a much longer look at the same pages. That initial impression, formed in the blink of an eye, may also influence how Internet users gauge the general performance of a website over time, the study showed.
 
That's because people tend to like being right, the researchers said. By continuing to use a website they initially liked -- if only for a fraction of a second -- users are proving to themselves that their rash decisions are sound.

Gitte Lindgaard, a Carleton University researcher who led the study, said that has big implications for e-commerce and other businesses moving online: "Unless the first impression is favorable, visitors will be out of your site before they even know that you might be offering more than your competitors," she told www.nature.com.

Published on: Jan 19, 2006