The 8-second website messaging test, part 1

Rod Griffith

By Rod Griffith
May 8, 2014

A recent study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the U.S. National Library of Medicine revealed that the average attention span of a person today has shrunk 33% since the year 2000.

Reduced attention span

  • Average attention span in 2000: 12 seconds
  • Average attention span in 2013: 8 seconds

To give you some idea of how brief an eight-second attention span is, just find a fish tank and make eye contact with a goldfish—because the average goldfish can pay attention longer than the average human today. That’s right: the average attention span for a goldfish is nine seconds!

There’s little argument that the continued decline in the average attention span over the last decade has much to do with the increase in external stimulation. We’re bombarded with information, media, sound and graphics on the Web, television, smartphones, tablets—virtually everywhere. Heck, you can’t even pump gas into your car today without being greeted by blaring video advertisements.

Adapting to today’s shortened attention span

When business decision makers are searching the web for products and services for their company, they may spend only a matter of seconds on your site before deciding whether your business looks like a relevant potential solution.

The key to capturing the attention of potential customers on your website is to create clear, concise messaging that helps them understand three critical values within the first eight seconds they spend on your home page:

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

In those first few seconds on your site, the visitor needs to quickly assess and comprehend these three elements, and then decide whether your business is potentially relevant (and of interest) or not.

Informed visitors make informed decisions

If your site's visitors are able to properly comprehend who you are, what you do, and for whom you do it within those first seconds, you have an informed visitor who will decide—based on those three values—whether to stay and read more, or whether to bounce off your site.

If they bounce off your site as an informed visitor, then so be it. They understand who you are, what you do, and for whom you do it—and have decided that you’re not the right type of company or product/solution/service they’re looking for.

Their decision to bounce off your site is an informed decision. And you don’t mind them leaving your site because they’ve disqualified themselves based an accurate understanding of those three key message elements.

Don’t let uninformed visitors leave your site for the wrong reasons

If the site's visitor cannot properly comprehend who you are, what you do, or for whom you do it within those first eight seconds on your site, they’re an uninformed visitor. And uninformed site visitors may choose to bounce off your site because they’ve inaccurately concluded you’re not a good fit for them—when, in fact, you may be a perfect fit.

You don’t want uninformed visitors to leave your site due to lack of information, wrong assumptions or conclusions due to unclear or confusing messaging.

For reasons why potential customers may leave your website as an uninformed visitor—and what you can do to fix this—continue to Part 2.

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