People “get” what your website is about before they have read a single word and they do so incredibly rapidly. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have demonstrated that we understand the concepts presented to us in an image within 13 milliseconds. That’s fast; super-fast. Indeed the average “blink of the eye” lasts for 250 milliseconds, meaning your brain can get the concepts of 20 different pictures in the space of just one blink. Amazing.
Well, not quite so amazing actually. Humans are intensely visual creatures. A sizeable amount of the brain is given over to visual processing and recent neurological studies have shown that visual processing involves many other parts of the brain in addition to the “visual cortex” at the back of your head. As you sit facing your computer to read this, much of your brain’s activity is involved in processing the images of everything you are looking at.
Other neurological studies have demonstrated that the decision-making parts of your brain kick in when you have been on a website for around 500 milliseconds. Indeed, it looks like you have made up your mind whether to stay or to go and click elsewhere inside half a second of seeing the web page you land on.
This new study underlines the importance of having images on your website which accurately convey concepts in less than a blink of an eye. No longer can you have clip-art or amateur snaps. This study confirms the need for a pin-point instant visual impact that clearly demonstrates what your site is about. Get the imagery right and people will stay longer because they will instantly “get” your website.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+