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,...

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