Why your web site has 10 seconds to make an impression.

Why your web site has 10 seconds to make an impression.

My wife and I have our 10th anniversary this summer, and to celebrate we are going on a trip. Taking the trip was the easy decision, deciding where to go has not been so easy. Our destination has to be far enough away so it’s different and special, but not too far away in case we are called back to parent duty. It has to be a place where my wife can lounge on the beach whenever she wants, but have enough to do that I don’t get bored sitting in a beach chair all day.

To decide where to go, we have burned up bandwith checking out hotels, resorts, and travel sites looking for the perfect location. In our search, I noticed just how fast my wife makes a decision about a place after looking at their site for no more than 10 seconds. Before a site had barely loaded, I would hear “Not Secluded Enough,” “Too Kid-Friendly,” or “Too Expensive.” She was making these decisions without reading one sentence of their well-written copy, or enjoying their soothing slide show of spectacular pictures.

Impulsive, you say? Not really.
In his book “Blink,” Malcom Gladwell discusses how we subconsciously make decisions in “a blink of an eye,” with what he calls thin slicing. Our brain makes incredibly fast decisions based on the infinite number of environmental factors it can assess. Sometimes these decisions are accurate, and sometimes they aren’t, but they do happen. When my wife looks at a web site and makes a decision about the type of place it is in 10 seconds, it’s her brain instantly processing what the page is communicating through layout, design, color, pictures and every other visual element, combined with her life experiences and natural perceptions. Is it fair to judge a place so quickly without going through the details of the site? Probably not. Does it happen? Definitely.

If you use your site to make an impression on current and potential clients (who doesn’t), take a step back from all the content, all the cool links and bells and whistles and try to look at it from the perspective of a first time visitor. What does your site say in 10 seconds?

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