In 2015, it was reported that the average human attention span lasts 8.25 seconds. Yup! You read that right. In 2000, our attention spans were 12 seconds long, but today they’re .75 seconds less than a goldfish and are only expected to get shorter. We have indeed become a nation of multi-taskers, one where the internet prevails, and fresh content is a key factor of relevancy and success. “Cutting through the clutter” online means being intentional with your website design.

While we can’t provide you with the perfect algorithm, we have distilled four components of high-performing websites. Consider this a checklist if you’re looking to refresh your site and grab 8 seconds of someone’s day.

  1. A Clear Menu of Pages and Subpages

In order to give the best experience to your visitors, your website should have no more than six main pages. Having too many options for visitors can be overwhelming. If you’re just starting out, begin with three vital pages: your homepage, about page, and contact page.

Think about your visitor’s experience—what do you want it to feel like? If you’re stuck, think about your own experiences—what websites do you gravitate towards? My brain likes to exit websites when I sense that content is buried or it’s difficult to find what I need. When we do this, bounce rates increase, which will reduce your website’s ranking in search. This means search engines will drop your site because they’re seeing that visitors are not finding what they’re looking for right away. Make your viewers lives easier by streamlining your website through clear page navigation which can in turn make your site more visible.

  1. Concise Copy

Writing website copy is no easy feat. What’s more, developing a tone and voice for your brand can be an even bigger hurdle. I’m a huge fan of clear, concise copy. While there’s a time and a place for lengthy content and flowery language, it’s most likely not on your website. Decide on one key message and refine your mission statement or tagline to make it as succinct as possible. Ask yourself, if someone visited your website for a few seconds, would they understand what you do, where you’re located and who you are? If you know your copy is too long, try reducing wordy phrases to single words. Replace phrases that signal a transition with simple verbs. You can also use bullet points to break up long paragraphs.

  1. Imagery

Humans are visual creatures. In fact, some sources suggest that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. A goal of well-written copy is to make your readers feel engaged, and images will help significantly. Whether it’s including photo captions or creating a graphic that illustrates your copy, use them liberally. Other unique images to include could range from infographics, drawings, charts, or tables. Always select photos that add value to the copy and try to steer clear of overused stock photography.

  1. A Clear Call-To-Action

The end goal after having people read your website is to elicit a response and get your readers to take action. A contact page on your navigation panel and a call-to-action (CTA) button on the upper fold of your homepage creates a sense of urgency around your message. Keep the CTA short, 3-5 words max. Decide on your CTA by finishing the sentence “I want my visitors to ____.” The phrase should define what you want your readers to do as a way to take action. If for example you’re spending money on paid advertising, you’d want them to “sign up today” vs. “schedule a meeting.” An effective CTA is the final step that you want people to walk away with when it comes to your website design and copy.

Overall, it comes down to putting yourself in your customer/client/visitor’s shoes. Identify their problem and show them that you understand their needs right off the bat!

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