Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye.
Potential readers can make snap decisions in just 50 milliseconds.
This makes me wonder... how do you judge the design of this blog? What impression does that initial 50 milliseconds give you?
That aside, this is something I've generally known about website design for a long time... I just wasn't aware of how incredibly brief a span of time was needed to make that judgement. :-P
I used to have to explain to people that the first impression about their website meant a lot more than their actual content, as most people would look and go "this is unprofessional" and instantly be biased against anything on the site etc. It would engender a lack of trust in the vendor, a lack of trust in the product or information etc.
Another awesome point that was made was how confirmation bias (or cognitive bias, as they call it in the article... which sounds like the dynamic duo of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias to me) effects the users judgement. That bias takes that first 50 millisecond judgement and bends their entire experience from that point on to confirm their initial reaction. If that first reaction was "wow, this is awesome!", they'll be subconsciously influenced to try to prove themselves right. If that first reaction was "this is crap.", they're probably just going to surf elsewhere... or at least be much more skeptical of the quality of any content on that site etc.
I know I've covered confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance on here before... and how they relate to people's unwillingness to admit when they're wrong and critically assess their religious beliefs, even in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary after the fact. That bias strongly influences the person to want to prove themselves right... to admit that they're wrong is terribly uncomfortable. It's just a matter of evolutionary psychology. The physiology of how we're wired... not much we can do about it but learn to understand it's function and keep our eye out for it when possible. This is why scientists try to set up double-blind tests etc... to remove any possibility of their own confirmation bias affecting the test results.
Fun stuff. :-D
You should really read all the links on this page... they give you a great insight into the ways your own mind works and how that functionality came about... awesome stuff.