Does Your Website Pass the Split-Second Test?

Does Your Website Pass the Split-Second Test?

We shouldn’t judge a book by its cover… but unfortunately, we do. All the time, every day.

Hardwired for survival, we look at what’s around and make snap judgments. Is this safe? Will it hurt me? Can I trust it? In a split second, our brains hand back the answer.

Yes. Or no.

It’s as simple as that.

While we like to think we’re more evolved than primal survival mode, the truth is quite different. We don’t have to worry very much about being eaten or slain in a split second these days, but no one changed our brain wiring accordingly.

So we still make those snap judgments. Only nowadays, we make them about situations. About people. About businesses.

That’s why your website design is crucially important. The second a new visitor sees your site, those snap judgments occur, whether you like them or not.

And your site design had best be ready to handle it.

What we judge has altered a little through time, though, to better fit our modern-day lifestyle. And the questions our brain answers look more like these:

Is this website credible? Does it look professional? Can I trust this business?

Yes or no. Simple as that.

If the answer is yes, your new visitor will hang about. He’ll read some copy and look for clues that reinforce his original judgment. Nice design. Well-written copy. Professional, credible looking business.

Great. You’re in a very good position to earn a new client and a sale.

If the answer is no, you’re in a bad position… one where you lose customers and dollars faster than lightning strikes.

Because that visitor will leave. Click! Just like that. His brain told him he should, because your website didn’t pass the test.

Not credible. Not professional. Not trustworthy.

Bad design or a poor website are business killers, and sadly, I see them all the time. It’s part of my job. When potential clients ask if I think their website needs a new look, I do the new-visitor test.

I click, I look, and I listen to my gut.

Does this website look credible? Does it seem professional? Does it convey trust?

Yes or no. It’s that simple.

The new-visitor test is the very first chance a website has of helping a business survive. Fail the test, and the business might fail along with the site, sometimes miserably. (If you’re very lucky, your business might not fail but sort of just limp along.)

Don’t believe me? Try the split-second test yourself. Surf the web, clicking links to sites. Don’t read them. Don’t analyze them. Just look.

And listen, the second you land. Your gut will tell you the answers you’re looking for.

Then go to your own website. Do the same split-second test. Judge YOUR book by its cover. And listen to your gut.

What do you hear?

If you heard yes, congratulations. Pat yourself on the back. You’re one of the few businesses with a website that’s working hard in your favor. (Or you’re in denial. That happens too.)

If you heard no, then it’s time to rethink your website and its ability to help you succeed. Help it help you – and give it what it’s begging for. You may never has to beg for sales again.

Need help with your web design? You’re in luck. There’s a solution to your website woes – one that’ll potentially revolutionize your business for 2012.

It’s called the Insanity Sale, and it’s happening right now at Men with Pens. We’ve slashed our rates for the month of December to help businesses around the world turn that no into a resounding yes, yes, YES.

Click here for more details.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. “I click, I look, and I listen to my gut.” You’re right–and all in under a minute and you probably won’t get a second chance. PRESSURE is on, isn’t it?

  2. YES, you did the post!

    I love it.

    First impression is everything. There are many things about a website that I happen to judge it on. The more simple it is, the better. If there is a pop-up window, chances are I’ll X out no matter how popular or professional the blogger is.

    If the content isn’t one click away, then it’s a turn-off. If I can’t figure out within a few seconds what the website is about — boom, X out.

    Hey, it is what it is. People need to match their compelling content to a compelling looking website. It’s sad that so many website are so poorly done, especially when there are services such as this that help you better improve the image, and potentially yield you better results.

    I’m glad you did this post, James.

  3. In this case a 5 second test does wonders. One thing I do is conduct User Testing (such as to see what real website users really think while they use my websites and even website designs. I can get instant feedback on everything. I am always amazed at what I find AND I have examples to show my clients. The first thing I do is get an instant opinion of their opinion with a 5 second, “what is your instant impression?” test.

  4. Excellent advice! One of my initiatives for 2012 is a site redesign, which I’m very excited about. It used to be that first impressions took place in person, but those days are long gone. The opportunity to create those first impressions in today’s world are happening online.


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