50 milliseconds – what's that as a percentage?

50 milliseconds is the time that Carleton University researchers find it takes Internet users to decide if they like an Internet page or not. Given a 50 millisecond glimpse of various Web pages, test subjects seemed to quickly decide on whether the Internet web page was for them. That’s very little more than the speed of reaction time. As the BBC put it, First impressions count for web.

That’s not really something new. Malcolm Gladwell has pushed the same them in his book, BLINK: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Blink and Click obviously applies to websites too. However it’s great to see a live demonstration that this is true. The results were published in the “Behaviour & Information Technology” journal.

Of course it’s not the same 50 milliseconds for everyone. It’s really a game of percentages. That’s where the Long Tail principle that Chris Anderson writes about comes in.

Long Tail

As you can see from the image of the long tail, a very high percentage of people are possibly taking 50 milliseconds or less to make up their minds and click away or stay.. However there’s a small percentage who may take much longer before deciding whether the web page is for them or not.

Marketing on the Internet is a game of percentages. It’s a percentage that find the web page multiplied by another percentage that stays on the web page and multiplied by a further percentage that eventually takes action. If you calculate all these percentages, it comes to a very, very small percentage. Where you win is that there are so many people on the Internet that the numbers of potential customers who contact you can still be significant. Adding all those 50 milliseconds will give you much more than just those 15 minutes of fame.
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