How to Capture Interest in Less Than 5 Seconds

With so much content available online these days, there’s no such thing as a captive audience anymore. Gone are the days where you could buy people’s attention with TV ads or supersized roadside billboards. People have so many choices of where and how they choose to consume the information that will help drive their decision-making, and that’s a wonderful thing, but it also makes the job of the marketer increasingly difficult.

Attention has increasingly become the most valuable form of currency, and you have mere seconds to capture people’s attention before they decide to look elsewhere. Many websites use what’s called the five second test to determine whether their homepage is eye-catching and quickly consumable enough to communicate value and capture interest before visitors look elsewhere.

The most important piece of this is clarity. Designers are increasingly favoring minimalist and simple layouts, and there’s a science behind why they are making that decision. People judge a website’s appearance just as quickly as anything else, and in a 2012 Google Study, visually complex websites were consistently rated as less beautiful than their more simplistic and minimal counterparts.

As humans, we don’t want to waste precious time and energy wrapping our head around something that doesn’t intuitively make sense. A website that is unclear and hides or disguises valuable information will turn people away before it even has a chance to leave any kind of lasting impression. Instead, all the info that people need to become interested should be front and center and presented in a clean and clear format.

Your value, the problem you’re solving, and how exactly you plan to enact it (in the form of clearly articulated products and/or services) should headline your site. Details like pricing, FAQs, and about pages can follow, but only after that critical first impression is made.

More important than specific information is the all important answer to the “why” question. Why should a visitor care about you and your product? Why should they be spending precious time on your site? If you can’t answer that question in a satisfying way then you’ve failed the test.

The best way to communicate the why of you, your product, and your website isn’t as cut and dry as it seems because it actually has nothing to do with you, your product, or your website. Instead, the absolute best way to make people care about you is to make it all about them.

Your site and your product should simply serve as a form of validation for something your audience already believes. They are the center of the universe, they are the hero of the story, and they need your help to make their life better in whatever way you know you can provide.

That’s the message that should be at the very heart of your website, and your marketing at large. That’s the message that’s going to get them to to take notice and buy into your vision. Every piece of your web copy, the images you display, and the structure behind it all should put to the customer, and how you can make their life better in a big (or small way).

— ZK

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