Think about the last website you visited. Chances are, if it wasn’t a social network, you probably were not on that website very long. People tend not to have a very long attention span, especially when it comes to the internet. According to research by Chao Liu and colleagues from Microsoft, the average user will leave a site within 10 seconds of opening it. This is why, in web design, first impressions are everything.
The first focus of a designer is hooking the user. Usually an aesthetically-pleasing design and a clear tagline help with this. The design invites the user in and the tagline gives the user an idea that this is the website they have been looking for. One of the most critical aspects is staying as concise as possible. Too much clutter will overwhelm the user and will cause them to reach for the back button. A designer must show the user purpose and direction. Now we have hooked the user for the first 10 seconds, which means the first impression is over. Now, we must keep them on the website until the 30-second mark.
If the user remains on the site for 30 seconds, the chances of them leaving have gone down dramatically. The design team has hooked the user, so now it’s time for the developers to get to work. Typically, 10 seconds is enough for a glance over, making the next 20 seconds the time when the user is going to interact with the site. This is when an intuitive-user interface comes into play. Home page elements need to work flawlessly and need to get the user what the need without any fluff. Any confusion or slow load times – at this stage – can cause you to lose the user. Ajaxing page elements serve as a great way to avoid invoking unnecessary page reloads, while still providing a great deal of content. If you can keep the user for 30 seconds, you have them.
After the 30-second mark, it is all about a clean menu. This amount of time is enough for the user to browse through the home page, which means the user now needs somewhere to go other than the back button. This is where a clear, well-defined menu can work wonders when it comes to bringing the user to the more in-depth pages of the site. Having an eye-catching page with the most important content is the best way to make the most of those critical 30 seconds.
Now the user is exploring the site – your work is done!
If you like statistics, charts, and graphs, check out the article that inspired this one from the Nielson Norman Group. If you have any questions about how Stellar can inspire your next website project, contact our team today!