In reality, five seconds is an eternity.  Think back to the last time you met someone for the first time. How long did it take for you to form an opinion? It’s probably shorter than you think. A Princeton University study found that people made judgments after looking at the faces of other people for only one tenth of a second. Our intuitive minds form opinions long before our rational minds have time to process the judgment – and those tendencies apply to how potential clients view your law firm’s website.

Opinions in the Blink of an Eye
In fact, we decide whether we like a website or not in a mere 50 milliseconds. A study conducted by Google concluded that first impressions really do matter and design factors that influence visual complexity such as color, use of whitespace and navigation choices can greatly influence whether a visitor will stay or leave. The study found that users find beauty in sites that look both simple and familiar.

Familiarity speaks directly to the ability to figure out what a site is offering. If a visually appealing design manages to pass the 0.5 second test, you must next assess its clarity and impact. This is known as the five-second rule, where a user has five seconds to look at a website and then explain its purpose. If a visitor can’t tell what a website is about in that time frame, they’ll move onto the next website (i.e. your competitor).

Your Website, Your Message

Before you test your own website, clarify your firm’s value proposition. Ask yourself what makes you unique and why should people contact and trust your firm? The answers should be the core of your website’s message and immediately noticeable.

It’s difficult to conduct the five-second test on your own website, so ask a friend to take a quick peek and answer three questions:

  1. What is the website about?
  2. What actions did it ask you to take?
  3. Is the website trustworthy?

If your friend struggles with any of these questions, take a deeper look at your website. There’s a good chance that unneeded content is muddling your message. Too many navigation options, overuse of images and wordy text can leave any firm’s website looking bloated and confusing. Remember, clarity is key. After all, you only have five seconds to make an impression.

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