Does Your Website Pass the 3-Second Test?

Website assesment in 3 seconds

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The elevator door opens and a stranger enters. Your brain instantly starts gathering data about this fellow.

Age 50-ish. Build: athletic. tan:fake clothes: expensive briefcase: leather  Wedding ring: married Occupation: Lawyer?

In less time than it takes to breath deep— BAM!— we pass snap-judgments.

Yes, first impressions are sometimes wrong, perhaps this fellow is a beach volleyball star or a rodeo clown, but you can often tell a lot about a person in under 3 seconds. The same goes for websites! That’s why it’s important to make sure your website makes the right kind of impression on visitors.

Your visitors will know within 3 seconds whether or not they’re going to dive deeper into your content or hit that back button and forget about you forever.

5 tips to making a good first impression with your website

At a glance, your website should:

1. Instill confidence-

Should the visitor trust you? Will you deliver on your promises? Is your product worth a darn?

Strange as it may sound, most people will answer these questions for themselves after being exposed to your website’s design—for 3 seconds!

That’s right; visitors will judge your quality and trustworthiness based on a brief visual impression, so make sure your website sings in perfect pitch right from the get-go. Your web design should look pro!

2. Convey an emotion-

Beyond simple quality and trust, visitors are looking for something more—something they might not even be able to put their fingers on, but they know it when they see it.

It’s an emotion. A feeling. An un-tangible resonance that gives them faith in their connection with YOU!

Make sure your website conveys (at a glance) your personality, your aesthetic, and your mission.

3. Broadcast your name or brand-

When we’re driving, we hate to have to pull over to ask directions. On the internet, we like to know when we’re on the right path too!

So make sure your name or brand is big and bold (and above the fold). Not simply to broadcast your name, but to give visitors the reassurance that they’ve arrived in the right place.

4. Have a clear call to action

Calls-to-action (“buy now,” “download the new song now for free,” “join my mailing list,” etc.) aren’t just for your own benefit. New visitors to a website like to know what they should do to enter the full experience you provide.

A clear call to action helps them know where to start.  It’s like GO! on the Monopoly board.

5. Visually guide the visitor –

Similarly, visitors don’t want to have to guess at things or “flow” through your content in the wrong direction. Be sure that your design emphasizes a particular route through the site.

For instance, once they’ve seen your name at the top and have gotten a good glimpse at your call to action, what do you want visitors to see next? Your blog? Your mission-statement? Your videos? Your press quotes?

The answer will depend upon your goals, of course, but whatever it is— be sure you guide the visitors’ eyes to that section.

Also, be sure the navigation bar is highly visible and that pages are named clearly; no weird names like “little shop of horrors” for your music store page!


I hope these tricks help you make a great first impression with your website. If you have other suggestions or tips, we’d love to hear ‘em. Please let us know in the comments section below.

Make a great first impression with a HostBaby website!