I was at a training recently and the instructor was reviewing the websites of some of the people in the room. One rule that kept coming up is that you have 3 seconds to grab a new visitor. When someone comes on to your site, you have about 3 seconds to tell them what your site is about, what it does and for whom it is intended. If it’s a fit, you have a chance of keeping them on your site and if not they’ll leave. If they don’t know, you’ve lost them even if they are a perfect client for you.
It’s definitely challenge to create a website that grabs people, even your perfect clients or customers. That’s true even if your purpose is clearly stated, but if you don’t clearly state your purpose, your chances have gone from “challenging” to “zero” because you’ve lost them.
3 seconds. Wow. That’s fast. Here’s some of what we learned:
- A bold headline featured prominently will make your purpose more clear
- Be clear about what your site does – is it for sales, information, sharing, connecting or something else? Consider it from the perspective of your visitor – why should they stay?
- Mention in the headline something to tell your visitor whether this site is for them – examples might include moms, vegetarians or golfers. A person knows immediately if they are in or out of that group
- Don’t try to be everything to everyone. You’ll end up reaching nobody. If you’re specific, you’ll at least have a chance of reaching the people you want to.
- Test your site on people – give them a quick glance and ask them what the site is about. This was very informative! You’d be surprised at how different something can seem to different people.
I think all of these ideas are really helpful in making your site an irresistible beacon to those people you most want to reach but the testing takes the cake. In our group, we did testing by having a few people provide their first impression on each site. The range of answers and interpretations was really eye-opening. One word or phrase can mean something totally different than you intend. For example, one site we looked at had nothing to do with dating but had the word “match” in the headline. That one word would have caused me to leave the site even though the actual subject was interesting to me because it sounds like a dating site and I’m married. You can easily test for yourself – just ask people what they think. Remember to consider whether they are your target market or not though.
Keep this in mind when you design or update your site. I know I’m going to look at my site soon and see if I pass the 3-second test everywhere!