The 5 Second Test Is Critical for Website Design

It's not a very long time--Vine's increasingly popular looping video clips are a whole one second longer. But it's an important amount of time during which the visitor will decide, consciously or subconsciously, whether or not to stick around, explore and maybe even do business with you.

Why five seconds? The short answer is that people have shortened attention spans. The longer answer is that there are so many other options available to them that people don't have the patience to dig around and try to figure out how to navigate a website. They want instant gratification, aesthetically, emotionally, socially and with regard to functionality.

With that in mind, here are the four questions visitors to your website need to be able to answer in five seconds--or they’re onto their next option.

What is the site's focus? Make the focus abundantly clear to the visitor. If you sell widgets, say so and show it. An effective logo, wordmarks and bold images work. If visitors aren't sure the site offers what it is they're looking for: click, they're gone.

Is it visually interesting? The aesthetics of a website matter more now than ever before. People expect websites to look current. If they visit a site that looks like it's from 2004 they'll think the information on the site is outdated. Follow design and layout best practices. Use modern fonts. And keep the copy up to date.

What do I do? It sounds simple, but helping people quickly and effectively navigate your site can be complicated--especially if there's a lot going on. The simplest way to ensure that the user knows exactly how to benefit from your site is to combine a clean navigation structure with a strong call to action.

Is this worth sharing? People surf the internet alone--so they can share their experiences with their networks. They want to be the first person to discover something cool and then share it via social media. Make your site share-worthy.

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Sangeeta Kumar

Sangeeta Kumar is the Vice President of Web Marketing for GMR Web Team, a global online marketing, strategy, development and maintenance agency. Sangeeta is a jack-of-all-trades kinda person in the world of Internet marketing, excelling in market research to come up with a strategy based on the latest trends to get a website on page 1. She knows her stuff and enjoys a good discussion on SEO anywhere, anytime.