You Only Have 8 Seconds

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It’s important to realize that web design is not just about making a site look good. Just focusing on the visual appeal will not enable your site or business to achieve the goals that you have set.

Do you know that an average website visitor takes just 6-8 secs to decide whether to stay on your site? Most of the visitors are not ready to grant you more time. So, what can you do in these 6-8 seconds to convey your real message, when you already know that other websites are just a click away? If you don’t really understand how they think, behave, what influences them, how to persuade them and how they finally make their decision then you have a problem. We will take a quick tour of few important things that matter in the very first seconds.

Make Them Feel at Home:

When somebody searches for a solution to his problem, he has no interest in your company, your services, products, or their features. What he looks for is a solution to his immediate need. His two main questions to you are: “Am I in the right place?” and “What’s here for me?” So any text you put on your site will be read to get an answer to these questions.

Don’t Let Them Think:

Appeal is any advertisement’s single core message, like stated as “Do you want ___? Here it is”. You should not make people think why it is worthy to keep looking at a page. By putting any statement that just describes prospects precisely what’s out there for them will fend off the filtering process and strike directly to their self-interest. Appeal must be evident in your text, which the readers could see first on your website.
Appeal can be either cognitive or emotional. Cognitive may include factors like low price, reliable, affordable, etc, whereas emotional relates to emotional resonance connection with the brand’s fame, excitement, humor, love, admiration or stories.

The first step towards successfully addressing your target business market is discovering the right appeal. Appeal is a factor that creates high attractions in any promotional message. Your selection of the right appeal can be the distinguishing element between you and your competitors.

Have you found the right appeal for your market?

Do You Know Two Things About Humans?

We Are Selfish: Our actions are motivated by our selfish nature and we naturally tend to act in our own best interests. Showing people precisely what’s in it for them is probably the best approach to seize their attention. Your viewpoint is not important to anybody if it is not beneficial for them; therefore, move into theirs.

Your aim must be to strike their self-interest by telling them only what they want to listen and showing them what they want to see. Visitors search for what that can satisfy their interests, which can eventually spur them to continue reading. What your site should do is to excite much interest to show that there is a good value here.

We Follow Emotions: We need to use facts and information, but we can’t rely solely on information. You should find emotional reasons that could promote a visitor to continue. Though, you can tell all the relevant reasons for why the thing is important, but if not connected with the people’s emotions, you cannot win over them. You can use messages to show enthusiasm, passion, commitment or similar types of feelings.

What Sells, Features or Benefits?

Features never sell anything; it is benefits that sell. People have no interest in your business, products or their features. Their concern is just the benefits your business can render to them. If there are marketing statements describing what you do, read it through the eyes of prospects. Question yourself, “what will I get here?” If these don’t tell any benefit to others, transform them, or do away with them.

In any proposition, only benefits, not features, matter to people. As you know the features, you can change them to the benefits. Try converting “what I have” to “what I have for you”. Rather than listing the benefits, stir up their emotions by making your prospects visualize how this will bring comfort in their life. How will it directly benefit them?

This is also An Art:

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery (French writer (1900 – 1944)

Another effective approach to increase focus is to remove unnecessary elements. Keep the things that give visitors a feel that they are in the right place and remove everything else. Doing this, you will increase the attention available for the purposeful element. The beauty of the Google home page is its pure simplicity, where a single dominating function of Google Search gets all the attention.

To ensure that your web design is minimalist, you have to begin by defining the core theme of your project, as the key purpose of minimalistic style is to clearly and concisely present the whole basic idea. Once the main theme has been drawn up, decide about the vitally essential information and features and sort them out in descending order by their importance. You would be really amazed to see how little information is enough to convey your entire message.

Knowing The Enemy:

Presenting lots of content and enabling your visitors with more and more features and options is good, but this can make your website visually over-crowded and complex. Keep on adding interesting and useful elements will have a complex web design.

Complexity can be everywhere, like in navigation, content, design, construction, code, which creates clutter, confusion, frustration, slows down loading time and above all negates good user experience and user-friendliness. For better results, you must avoid a complex web design by all means.

Here are few tips to get out of it. Add “Read More” links in your content, as often seen on news sites. Just show headlines; to read the full story, users will click on the link. Similarly, the page presenting your products or services should show a brief description of each item followed by a link directing to the complete details.

Designers’ virtuoso abilities are often a big hurdle in fostering the skill of removing unnecessary elements. After long-developed imaginations, designers are sometimes unwilling to adopt the minimalism, which is more negative than a plus. Well, if this is the case with you, reductionism will help. Just remove all the parts in each section, which are not needed. Reductionism does not mean depriving anything of its character or function. It emphasizes retaining and focusing on what is indispensable, both in terms of content, and technology.

Headline Rule:

This is the first thing visitors look at on any web page to know where they are. Surely, your website would also have a tag line standing most prominently. Does your headline answer to their question? Is your headline catchy and does it create curiosity or give any sound reason in the readers to continue?

You may employ some other ways to attract them, like by highlighting key messages, which are not included in the title headline: adding sub-headings: and highlighting keywords, adding background colors or using bold text in the body.

Pareto Principle:

According to the Pareto Principle (80/20 law), most of the results, outcomes or effects (approx. 80%) are due to a small number of factors, elements or reasons (approx. 20%). When applied to the web, we would say that:

  • 80% of the revenue comes from 20% of the website’s features.
  • 80% of the attention is grabbed by the 20% of the elements.
  • 80% of website success is due to the 20% of the website’s capabilities or functionalities.
  • 80% of the visitors come to your site in searching 20% of the material available on your site.
  • 80% of the time spent, by your visitors, in viewing 20% of your website areas.

And this goes on.

Now, where is that 20% of your website? Which elements comprise that 20%? Which 20% area is getting the most of your users’ attention? Using Google Analytics or other tools for click tracking and eye-tracking will help you to know the high value territory on your website and finding that 20% of your website that brings 80% of the people.

Realizing this, many designers go to build mobile websites first as the lean operation of the sites aimed for mobile requires focusing on the most important features and ideally keep 20% of the functionality.


F Pattern


Studies have showed that the eye-movements of the users while viewing any text-based web pages follow the letter “F” pattern. The principle remains the same whether they are searching for any specific information or just aimlessly browsing a website. In either case, the eye-movements are almost the same and close to the F-pattern. But this behavior is found with text-heavy web pages and not the same with websites using images primarily.

Inverted Pyramid:

For visitors looking for information quickly, it is effective to break with the inverted pyramid (the writing convention used by the journalists for generations) on each page. The pyramid principle implies that messages begin with the most important information and always follow more minor details. It serves equivalent to “above the fold”, where your visitors will get all the key information without scrolling. Just recall the Pareto principle; it would say that 80% of your readers are interested in 20% of the content.

Avoid Frustration:

I remember the time, around the mid and late 90s, when it was normal for a designer to allow 5-6 clicks to the user to reach desired page from the homepage. But, today, a website must enable its users to get the utmost information within 3-clicks at the most. More clicks mean more frustration, which is caused when the user has to wait for additional pages to download. Try putting all the sections in a way that the user can reach within just 3-clicks (maximum) from the homepage.


If your visitors get the feel that they are in the right place in the first few seconds, they will most likely want to continue instead of leaving the page. But if there is no such signs for them, they will prefer moving back to your competitors’ sites.

In this short time, you have to achieve two objectives: 1) show the feel and purpose of your website, and: 2) take their eyes to the most important things. Wrong feel or focus, both, will lead them to exit. How you achieve these two objectives? Share below.

About the Author:

Muddassir Hosein is a market researcher and an analyst with ever-growing passion and interests for the web development and design industry. He also writes for many online web design blogs and, you may not believe, he loves to make friends; say “Hi” to him at

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