What has more impact on us—sight or smell?

Face it, nothing puts a dampener on your internet surf like a slow page load. It’s irritating not just because you’re left hanging, but you’re left hanging with no idea of how long the wait will be.

So you sit, precious seconds of your life ticking away, eyes locked onto some small spinning graphic device that would normally clear in microseconds. Nothing…

Let’s take a step back and consider two of our five human senses; sight and smell.

Interestingly, there is no agreement on which is the stronger sense. Even if that is something worth discussing. We’ve defined our senses but what has sight got to do with smell? They are as far apart as butter is from margarine.

During waking hours, sight and hearing are with us constantly objectively recording everything. It is very seldom that something breaks through. Our brains filters what’s seen or heard down to enough of a minimum to allow us to survive and function during waking hours.

To a large extent, in our modern era, we can control the range of visual stimuli we’re exposed to.

If we want to see car crashes with people dying we can search YouTube. But that smell from your youth of leaves burning how do you simulate that? You can’t. That’s why smell with its richness, it’s ability to bring to consciousness a host of highly personal, vivid memories is a superior sense.

Certain smells overcome us. A powerful odor breaks through the clutter more noticeably than an unexpected visual. Smells stop us in our tracks.

On Saturday mornings, at the exit of my local hardware store, a man sells jumbo hotdogs. The smell of grilling bratwurst and onions overcomes me as I battle to get through the wafts of enticing aromas to the parking lot beyond. Moments later it would not be surprising to find me in my car, happily chowing one down. A victim to the power of smell.

As a web designer how can you break through with a static visual? How can you break through with an animated gif or video? You have to understand the difficulty. If you understand how important this initial obstacle is to overcome, you’ll be on your way to lowering that ever-humbling bounce rate.


Colin Shubitz
President and Creative Director – CSA&D, Inc

Copyright 2016 © CSA&D, Inc.