web designThe five-second rule no longer refers to dropping food on the floor. Rather, it is the average amount of time your customer will spend on your website before clicking off. How did this happen?

With a seemingly infinite amount of content posted each day to social media, a customer’s task to sift through it all leaves us with shorter attention spans than ever. It’s hard to continue reading what is on your screen at this moment when three other screens are dinging with brand new notifications and alerts. Therefore, the task of website designers and copywriters to optimize and streamline their intended message for maximum clarity and impact is tougher than ever. With only five seconds to impress, here are the three questions that need to be answered:

  1. What is this site about?
  2. What can I do here/is it what I’m looking for?
  3. How useful is it to me?

Answering these three questions for your potential customer is indispensable to your business’s success. On the homepage, your customer should be able to find the answers to these questions. Luckily, these three questions pair themselves seamlessly to one crucial element:


The advertising legend David Ogilvy made the point that “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” In five seconds, little processes through a customer’s mind past what immediately pops up for them to read. So, here are some guidelines for a compelling headline:

  • Clarity over cuteness: No matter how clever your headline may seem, if the customer can’t decipher it, it is pointless
  • Specificity where possible: Businesses these days work to fill specific niches within a market. Direct your message to them rather than a general audience.
  • Avoid hype words: Customers are more aware than ever of internet scams. Using copy like “Miracle Product!” or “Best in the world!” will degrade on your credibility and trustworthiness

If your headline makes up 80 cents of your dollar, it is clear many iterations and revisions of your original copy should go through your team.

When thinking of effective website design, relate your experience to glancing at a newspaper. You should aim to convey your message “above the fold,” or what you see before you unfold the paper. All subsequent information is lost if your customer leaves before seeing it. Effective headlines are short, punchy, and memorable, meaning each word counts. Optimizing each word typed is not an easy task. Luckily, Smart Link offers services for that very job to increase traffic and lengthen the average time spent on your site. You have five seconds, think fast. If you need more time, feel free to contact us