First impressions mean a lot on the web. Christopher Butler, a speaker and advisory board member of the HOW Interactive Design Conference, recently wrote a piece Webpage Speed Dating. He says you have 10 seconds to convince the user you have the information they need:
If a webpage’s purpose—what it’s offering and what it’s asking for—is not immediately clear, a user won’t give it the time of day, no matter how well-written its content. So, it often comes down to issues of design that determine a webpage’s effectiveness, and whether it’s able to disarm a user’s skepticism.
Christopher has some great examples of good web design at work, and tells you how to do a 10-second test on your own website on the Newfangled blog.