According to a recent eye tracking study on website usability by Dr. Hong Sheng at Missouri S&T, participants spent an average of 20 seconds viewing a selection of 25 websites during a website usability first impression study. Her research explored the importance of first impressions on whether or not users stayed on a page. She also explored which parts of a webpage were most attended to, indicating that these locations played vital roles in creating these impressions.
The small study used website screenshots to remedy slow download speeds. Twenty students from Missouri S&T viewed the screenshots at their leisure. Dr. Sheng found seven website sections that were attended to the most, and these sections can make or break a user’s decision to continue to investigate the page or to move on to newer and more exciting things. In order of most time attended to least time attended, from 6.48 to 5.25 seconds respectively, users were drawn to these locations:
- Company Logo
- Primary Navigation Menu
- Search Box
- Social Networking Links
- Main Website Image
- Written Content
- Website Footer
Monitoring and testing these seven areas could potentially yield massive improvements in user retention and bounce rates. Additionally, mistakes here could break your viewer’s first impression, which is specifically true for images. An inappropriate image could give your viewer misconceptions about what your website is about.
Additionally, a previous study by Sirjana Dahal demonstrated the importance of color in first impressions. In her master’s thesis, she showed that participants responded best to pleasant and attractive colors with a contrasting text color that is easy to read.