The 10 second rule for website usability

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How many times have you visited a website looking for something, like contact details, an email address or phone number, or some specific information – only to spend time looking fruitlessly for it? Usability tests and web analytics suggest that most people spend no more than ten seconds looking for they thing they came for, before leaving the site in frustration.

You have 10 seconds to make an impression with your website visitors.

Most people filter the huge amount of information each day – and the information they can read and absorb is limited. When reading a website, the average person scans the content at around 15 words per second.

Have a clear call to action

For example, if your union campaign website has the goal of asking visitors to sign a petition, then you have ten seconds to ensure the visitor to understand what you want them to do and how to do it. If you discover that most people visiting your union’s main website to get contact details, then you need to make it really simple and easy for them to get those contact details – don’t make it a goose hunt.

Make your info easy to find

Nothing makes website visitors leave a site faster than not finding the information they’re looking for. Put yourself in the mind of the person visiting your website. How can you make it simple and easy for them to get what they want?

Write for the web

In many cases, this means “writing for the web” – cutting down on the words. Reading lots of text on the computer screen is difficult and can be uncomfortable. Keeping in mind the 10 second rule, you should make any text on your main campaign website landing pages – especially your homepage – concise and clutter-free, as well as use headings and dot points. With only 10 seconds to get your message across, you really have only about 150 words to make your point and convince your visitor to complete your call to action.

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