The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

18 January 2006

Maybe I need a bigger bird

A research team at Carleton University in Ottawa has concluded that the time it takes for a visitor to judge a Web site is no more than 0.05 second.

Yes, really:

The Canadian team showed volunteers glimpses of websites, lasting for only 50 milliseconds. The volunteers then had to rate the websites in terms of their aesthetic appeal.

The researchers found that the speedily formed conclusions closely tallied with opinions of the websites that had been made after much longer periods of examination.

Gitte Lindgaard, lead researcher of the paper, expressed her surprise at the results. "My colleagues believed it would be impossible to really see anything in less than 500 milliseconds."

I think that at the heart of the matter is the template: not the one used to construct the site, but the ones we use for comparison which we keep in the back of our heads. We may not be 100-percent thrilled with our own sites, but we know what we like, and, perhaps more important, what we don't like. Armed with this information, we can judge a site on an aesthetic basis, or on any other basis we can process quickly enough. For instance, if your criteria for rejection include "too many overly-cute titles" and "articles about Maureen Dowd," I expect you'll be gone from here well before those 50 milliseconds are up.

(Via Population Statistic.)

Posted at 6:18 AM to Blogorrhea


50 ms! Now, that's drawing a conclusion faster than Wyatt Earp. I would have predicted it would take at least 83 ms.

I would venture that the ones they judged most aesthetically pleasing were the ones with lots of white space - like yours. Nice clean crisp look, doesn't leave one guessing or wondering, and fits that internal gold-standard template you mentioned. Of course, this does not speak to whether a reader is left confused by content...

CG, when you need a new or bigger bird, I'll give you the bird. OK?

Posted by: Winston at 7:17 AM on 18 January 2006

The bird and domain name were the first things to catch my eye. When I read the titles and the contents, I was hooked. And remain hooked, as Sitemeter will attest. You've a great thing going here, with lots of loyal readers. No need to start fidgeting with format or graphics. Keep on posting!

Posted by: CALL at 5:50 PM on 18 January 2006

Your site design is excatly what it needs to be, and your bird is great. I happen to have a counterpoint on site design that I posted today.

Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 6:52 PM on 18 January 2006