There is no set rule as to how long your website has to make a connection with a user. The time span for optimal engagement ranges from about 4 seconds to about 10 seconds. Regardless of how many seconds it takes to evoke a response, let’s just put it this way: your website has only a few precious seconds to convince the user that they have arrived at the right place and that they should stay.
Why are web users so fickle? They are inundated with information all day everyday and they can only allot a few seconds to a new website. If a browser doesn’t get the sense that they will find what they want from a particular website within a few seconds, they will head to another site that does give them this feeling. You can make your site search engine-engine-friendly until the cows come home but if you aren’t grabbing the attention of your audience, you are doing yourself a great disservice.
Web browsers cast their judgment on a website within only a few seconds by scanning and not paying attention to the details (at first). Most web users scan a new website in a few seconds in a diagonal pattern, looking for pertinent information.
Yes, this means that the months of hard work you put into your website’s design, concept, content, and navigation are haphazardly appreciated (or even noticed) by the majority of your audience. It’s a hard fact of digital life. So, how do you act accordingly in order to make sure that users are engaged from the first second they hit your site?
The answer is obvious, but I’ll go ahead and say it: place the most important information about your product/service/company at the top of the page. According to Milissa Tarquini, “The most basic rule of thumb is that for every site the user should be able to understand what your site is about by the information presented to them above the fold.”
Of course, executing the answer is never as simply stating it. So, here is a quick list of things to keep in mind when reviewing your site:
Keep it simple: When a user hits a website they want to know who you are, what you have to offer, and what the next steps are. Keep your design simple, and easy-to-follow. And you shouldn’t overload your site with distracting graphics, content, navigation.
Every element of your site must have a purpose: This follows the first tactic because they are closely tied together. Whenever you add something to your homepage you should ask, “Does this help convey my message clearly and engage the use quickly and easily.” Remember: communicate, don’t decorate.
Make them want more: To get someone excited about your site, they have to view your site as “important.” When you achieve this status, the user will explore the rest of your site to get more information and to learn more about you and your product/service. Present the most important information first, but don’t be afraid to disperse other crucial information throughout the site.
Every audience is different: What is actually important, the information that should be highlighted at the top of your website, is different for every audience. You will have determine what your audience is looking for and give it to them fast and easy.
In general, you have 4 to 10 seconds to convice a user that they should explore the rest of your website. So, what’s your plan? That is what this boils down to. And the answer to this question is different for every website.