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What is impression testing?

Understand what an impression test is and how to set one up in Trymata

The “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, five seconds was really not much time to register a value proposition let alone an entire GUI; in many cases it was just enough for the brain to register images and perhaps a headline or two.




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.

Here are FIVE of the top things you stand to learn from impression testing!

Using the impression test

When setting up a user test, you can specify if you want to include an impression test. If you check Yes, then we precede your task list 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:

  • Say three words that you remember from the site, or that you would use to describe the site.
  • What is this website about?
  • What services and/or products are offered on this site, and for whom?
  • 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. Don't skimp on the customer experience design!

Impression testing can also be great to use in tandem with A/B Testing, for both websites and mobile appsUsability testing and A/B testing are BFFs, you know?


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