What is impression testing?

The impression test, or “five-second test” is a very simple method for capturing a user’s first impressions of a website. Based on a handful of critical components – images, colors, layout, key words and phrases – people can formulate their expectations for a website very quickly, and those perceptions usually influence the rest of their experience on the site.

We did a few experiments with five-second tests on various websites. In our experiments, 5 seconds was really not much time to register a value proposition let alone all the different qualities and elements of a landing page; in many cases it was just enough for the brain to register images and perhaps a headline or two. Too often, when asked what they remembered from the site users would respond that they just didn’t know, or didn’t have enough time.


During an impression test, users are timed for 15 seconds while looking at your landing page


Since we cared more about users’ understanding of the websites’ value proposition and less about strictly visual judgments, we extended the time length of our impression tests to 15 seconds: the average amount of time visitors spend on any given webpage. We found that this was an ideal amount of time for users to quickly look over the page and form a basic grasp of the website’s main purpose and value proposition.


Read more: Five valuable things you’ll learn from a website impression test!


Using the impression test

When setting up a usability testing study on Trymata, you can specify if you want to include an impression test at the beginning. If you check “Yes,” then we start each user session off with a short impression test.

The user is shown the landing page for about 15 seconds (it’s rough because it may take the website a second or two to load), and then we ask them 4 basic questions to respond to:

  1. Say three words that you remember from the site, or that you would use to describe the site.
  2. What is this website about?
  3. What services and/or products are offered on this site, and for whom?
  4. What is the feel of this site? (e.g. professional, fun, small-company, corporate?)

Basically, with the impression test you get a quick review of the user’s impressions of the landing page. It doesn’t cost any more, and it’s a great way to gauge whether you’re sending the right message and setting the right tone.


Read more: Understanding your impression test results


Your landing page is like a billboard. You only have a short amount of time to catch people’s attention and communicate your core purpose. Making the right impression on new visitors can be the difference between losing or keeping them.

Running an impression test is a great way to ensure that you’ve designed the most effective “billboard” for your website and brand. You’ll learn what your site visitors notice and understand from their first exposure to your online experience, what they respond positively to, and what they respond negatively to.

When you optimize the design of your landing page, you open the door to the entire rest of your website for many more users, and increase their chances of staying, learning more, and converting!


Learn how you can improve first impressions of your site today!

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