The Eye of Your Customer



What can possibly happen in just 0.05 seconds?


Guess what marketers and UX folk… you have one heck of a job cut out for you. Why, you say?

Well, apparently we humans are amazingly engineered to recognize the bad from the good, faster than you can blink – literally.

In this case we’re talking about a visitor’s first impression of your website.

Research conducted by a group of researchers from Carleton University found out that visitors can make a first impression within 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds). In their paper, Attention web designers: You have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression!, they discovered that website visitors are mainly influenced by a site’s visual appeal and they make this judgement within 0.05 seconds.

Blinking only takes 6 times longer, so no pressure.


And we all know how important first impressions are right?


If your first date’s breath smelled like a thousand-year-old-egg, you probably wouldn’t be going back for seconds.

The same goes for business leads; if they’re unimpressed they’ll walk out on you.

Could get it any more challenging? Yes, it apparently can.

In 2014 MIT neuroscientists discovered that a human brain can process whole images within just… wait for it… 0.013 seconds.

I don’t know what the definition of “instant” is in your books, but in mine I would say that’s instant.


Impressing customers has to be faster than a blinking eye


So online marketers + UX dudes and designers… I have to say once again: your job is to impress your customer faster than they can blink. Do you want some help with that? I know I sure do.

Let’s look at two similar studies that borrowed the eyes of students for science.

Both eye-tracking studies conducted by Wichita State University and Missouri University of Science and Technology showed results that could give online marketers a head start when it comes to instantly impressing their potential customers.

The first question that should be answered is: where do I start, where’s the most important real estate space for a website visitor’s eyes?

To spare you the grueling task of having to read too much, let me list the most important features that you should concentrate on (based on the average number of times and average amount of time a person spends looking at a specific element).


Here are your priorities in the first 0.05 seconds


  1. Logo – People will repeatedly look at your logo and spend a lot of time just staring at it.
  2. Main Picture – Large visuals attract eyes, especially human faces! People were fixated on faces.
  3. Headline text – More time is needed to digest text, make sure it’s short and informative.
  4. Menu – Needs to be visible, clear and succinct; it deserves to be a high priority item.
  5. Below the fold – Basically everything else on screen… it’s important but not top priority.


The secret to winning over your customers


Your logo is ultimately the face of your company, so make sure it’s not sending mixed messages. Colour psychology plays a big role here.

Speaking of faces… use the power of the human face! Our brains are hardwired to automatically look for faces. Use this to your advantage – use your motto, power phrase or main message and stick it right next to a real employee or customer’s face (no stock photos please!).

Your headline text sends a literal message about what you’re all about. You need to make an impact in 8 words or less! This is one of many reasons why you should hire a professional copywriter. Without a clear convincing message your customer will become dissatisfied and even leave your site!


Wrapping it all up


Use this information to perfect the above mentioned elements and wow your customer by making a great instant impression.

These findings shouldn’t be limited to just websites, they can also be used for other online media such as banners, social media ads, email templates, etc.

And don’t forget; it’s not just visual design that matters, an integrated approach to online marketing is the key to success.

Great copy and great visual design go hand in hand for making your company become a premium online brand.


You have an opinion and I dare you to share it!


What’s your strategy for making a great first impression online?


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