The Australian Small Business Blog

Friday, November 09, 2007

First Impressions always Count

Does your branding link your business cards to your letterhead, to your displays and packaging, to your banners and to your Website?

Does each component of the brand come together to give a consistent message no matter what the situation?

If the customer does not connect the dots then how long does it take to loose someone if the branding is not giving the right message?

Consider the message below and then consider the speed with which potential customers make up their minds to connect to or leave your brand in any medium. Studies show Internet users make up their minds about the quality of a website in the blink of an eye. Researchers found that the brain makes decisions in just a 20th of a second of viewing a webpage. They were surprised, as they believed it would take at least 10 times longer to form an opinion. The study, published in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology, also suggests that first impressions have a lasting impact.

Speedy conclusions
The Canadian researchers 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 had been made after much longer periods of examination. Gitte Lindgaard, lead researcher, of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, said, "My colleagues believed it would be impossible to really see anything in less than 500 milliseconds, Judgments were being formed almost as quickly as the eye can take in information".

Lasting impressions
The researchers also believe that quickly formed first impressions last because of what is known to psychologists as the "halo effect". If people believe a website looks good, then this positive quality will spread to other areas, such as the website's content. Since people like to be right, they will continue to use the website that made a good first impression. This will further confirm that their initial decision was a good one. Gitte Lindgaard warned "unless the first impression is favourable, visitors will be out of your site before they even know that you might be offering more than your competitors".
Richard Gill is the director of The Banner Lady.

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