A New Study Reveals the Power of First Impressions OnlineIf you think any old website will do for your business, read this.

It takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form a first opinion of your brand once they've perused your company's website, according to researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. And it takes just another 2.6 seconds for that viewer's eyes to concentrate in a way that reinforces that first impression.

Given that tight timeframe, making a good first impression should be among your first orders of business. To that end, the Missouri S&T study results might help you and your web designer determine which elements of your website are most important to those viewing the pages. The researchers employed eye-tracking software and an infrared camera to monitor study participant’s eye movements as they perused the test website pages.

The analysis of eye movement garnered from the data helped these researchers determine how long people focus on specific portions of a web page before moving on to another part of the page. These sections included the navigation menu, logo, photos, images and social-media icons. Also important, according to the research team, is the selection of color and images to a web page's design.

Study participants were asked to rate sites on the basis of visual appeal and design factors during an average of 20 seconds spent on each of 25 websites. The sections sparking the most interest included:

  • Logos: Visitors spent about 6.48 seconds focused on this most identifiable portion of a site.
  • Navigation menus: Users spend almost as long (6.44 seconds) studying the menu on a webpage.
  • Search box: This area kept visitors' attention for more than 6 seconds.
  • Links to social utilities: The fact that participants in the study focused on social-media icons for 5.95 seconds reveals just how important it is for your business to offer opportunities for customers to engage with your brand and other customers.
  • Primary image: Visitors perused the main photo or graphic on the page for 5.94 seconds.
  • Written content: This element took up 5.59 seconds of their time.
  • Bottom of the page: That's where users ended up, engaged for about 5.25 seconds in that location.

If it's been a while since you last looked at your own website, take the time now to identify the top three things you want visitors to do as a result of visiting your site. Write these items down, followed by scheduling a meeting with your web team to review the current site. You may be surprised by what you see.

How have you revamped your website to attract more eyeballs? Leave a comment and let us know.