The 8-second website messaging test, part 2

Rod Griffith

By Rod Griffith
May 15, 2014

In last week’s blog article, we discussed our 8-second website messaging test and how it can be used to quickly audit the primary top-level messaging on your home page to see whether it passes the 8-second attention span rule.

We discussed how the primary messaging of your website home page needs to help site visitors become informed site visitors by quickly understanding three key elements within the first eight seconds of their site visit:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you do
  3. For whom you do it

If your website fails to communicate those three key elements within those first 8 seconds, some of the most common causes are the following.

A) Your messaging is not concise

If your primary sales message on your home page is more than seven words, it may be time to consider some editing. Nowhere does the “Keep it simple” rule apply more than your top-level messaging of your home page.

B) Your messaging is not clear

It is critical that your top-level messaging is simple and easy for your target audience to understand. Being far too creative with cryptic, unclear messaging may not be helping you. Make sure your target audience will not misunderstand or misinterpret your home page messaging.

C) Your messaging is not easy to find

Site visitors will not take the time to read paragraphs of text until they’re confident you’re a viable company that matches what they’re generally searching for. So don’t bury your critical messaging points (who you are, what you do, and for whom you do it) in paragraphs of text.

Use prominent positioning that’s easy and quick to see—and fonts that are easy to read. Don’t force your site visitors to read the body text of your site in order to understand those three key message elements.

Your website passes the test—now what?

Okay, so you’ve got a website home page and top-level messaging that is concise, clear, and easy to find—and your site visitors can quickly identify the three key top-level messaging elements. Now what?

Your next goal is to promptly help them understand your primary customer value proposition—and answer the following question: What makes you (and your products/services) uniquely qualified to best help customers solve their critical problems and/or reach their critical goals more effectively than alternative solutions?

This is a more challenging effort, of course. But it’s vital to understand what keeps your customers up at night (their "pain points"), so you may best help them understand what makes you uniquely qualified to help them.

The key element here is uniquely qualified—as this is the primary differentiator that customers need to understand most. Your ability to communicate this will greatly impact your ability to compete—especially in a market crowded with alternative solutions.

Start using the 8-second website messaging test now

Using the 8-second website messaging test is a very simple, yet effective means to quickly examine your website for potential weaknesses in its messaging, layout, or content. Try it out on other websites, too. You may be surprised to see how many websites fail this test.

Too many companies focus on the attractiveness of their website over the effectiveness of their website. They create beautiful, creative websites that are stunning to look at, but may not communicate your three key messaging elements very effectively or within the critical first eight seconds.

Our simple advice is this: Don’t worry about building a site that wins design awards. Instead, focus on building a website that wins business.

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