The Five Second Rule…

Before we get to the 3 questions that was promised, first I want you to ask yourself how accurate is the five second rule? I’m not talking about how long after you drop food on the ground is too long before you won’t eat it.

I’m talking about how people always say you only have 5 seconds to grab somebody’s attention with your website.

But, is that really all the time you have?


The Blink Test

The truth is this… It takes only 0.2 seconds for the human brain to make that sentimental decision of whether or not they like what they see (This is known as the blink test and is also the first big secret to converting more visitors).  We instinctively know if something is pretty or ugly in a split second.  Web design, like any design, is highly visual and it rises and falls first on visual attractiveness.  You don’t normally try something on at a clothing store unless you immediately like the design.  Its the same for a webpage.  You don’t click or scroll unless you first like what you see.  Common sense right?

3 Elements of Pages That Pass Blink Test

There are certain things you can build into your landing page to help more visitors pass the blink test. People have spent their entire careers testing and retesting which elements and features work best… but I’m going to sum up the most important elementes of conversion optimization with three simple words…

  • Beautiful – Use vibrant graphics, crisp photos and coordinating colors. 
  • Simple – Don’t overwhelm.  Use the KISS principle – Keep It Simple Stupid. (Apple is great at this) 
  • Expected – There are certain elements of a web page that we have grown to expect, so it is your job to make sure visitors feel immediatly how to use your site. Here’s a few biggies: 1) Keep your logo in the top left corner. 2) Have an easy to use Navigation bar at the top 3) Make buttons clearly a button and tell the user why they should click on it… you get the idea.

Having a beautiful, simple, and expected landing page is typically enough to at least keep users from immediatly pressing the back button.

But that is just the beginning.  You still have over 4 seconds left on the clock to capitalize on the full 5 seconds.

Why 5 Seconds?

There are about a billion websites on the web… literally, there are over 1 BILLION websites online.  Thats a fairly large market. And with each day that passeses, visitors are becoming more selective about how and where they spend their time on the web.

We used to judge books by their covers, now we judge websites by their landing pages.

Think about how important the first five pages of a book is to a writer.  They have to convince that publisher it is worth reading in just 5 pages.  If not, all your hard work and talent gets thrown out in the pile with the rest of the unsuccessful could-have-been best sellers.

It’s the same for landing pages.  5 seconds to get your foot in the door.

So you HAVE to make those seconds count by asking the questions before your visitors answer them.


This is the overall sense of core message your brand is sending.  This is most often captured in the headline or a graphic or a nice combination of both.  Its important to send the core message within the first 5 seconds.  That means you need to be simple, direct, and memorable.  That is why company slogans exist, but don’t let a catchy slogan confuse your message.


What conveys trustworthiness to you when you visit a website?  It may be the professional feel of the design, the testimonial from “Bill Gates” or the list of brands they work with.

There’s a reason that almost every good checkout page has a banner like this one:


These type of banners do two things primarily. First off, they obviously let customers know that they can use their credit card. Secondly, and more importantly, by using brands that visitors already trust the website is increasing its own trustworthiness by association.

Users subconsciencly think, “If they take American Expresss then this must not be a scam… plus, American Express will refund me if it is. I’m going to pull the trigger”


Putting your most prominent call to action above the fold (top 600px of your page) seems to be the gold standard for conversion, but that’s not always the best. Don’t get me wrong, you need a call to action, but that call to action may be simply a button that sends the user further down the page to the most prominent call to action.  This is effective if you want to warm your customers up to the product/service before you get the promising click you want.  Sometimes you need to sell it before you create enough curiosity for a click.  Furthermore, you are making sure that your leads have a vested interest and understanding of your product which could produce more promising leads.

Bonus Activity: Take the 5 second Rule Test!

You don’t need anything fancy to do this.  Grab your spouse or your unbiased coworker and have them sit at your desk.  Tell them to try and remember as much as they can about the page they are about to see.  Then open your page for 5 seconds and then close it.  Immediately ask them the 3 questions in this post and see what they have to say…  The answers may surprise you.