October 21, 2016

Pass the 10-second test

The longer web visitors stay, the longer they’ll stay

Should I stay or should I go?

HOW LONG IS TOO LONG? Web visitors decide whether to stay or go in 10 seconds or less.

That’s a question your web visitors ask themselves every second they spend on your page.

Now new research shows that if you can get your visitors to spend 10 seconds on your webpage, they’ll likely stay longer. And the longer they stay, writes usability expert Jakob Nielsen, the longer they’ll stay.

Webpages age ‘negatively.’

For the research, Chao Liu and colleagues from Microsoft Research crunched the numbers on page visit durations for more than 200,000 webpages over nearly 10,000 visits. They learned that the amount of time users spend on a webpage follows a “Weibull distribution.”

Easy for them to say.

Weibull is a reliability-engineering model that’s used to analyze the time it takes components to fail. Given that it’s worked fine until now, the model says, it will likely fail at X time.

Most webpages age “negatively.” That is, the longer visitors stay, the longer they’re likely to stay.

The 10-second test

Visitors decide whether they’re on the right webpage fast:

  • In the first 10 seconds, they make a critical stay-or-go decision. They’re most likely to leave during that first, fast glance at the page.
  • But if they do stay, visitors look around a bit more. In the next 20 seconds — their first 30 seconds total on the page — they’re still quite likely to leave.
  • After 30 seconds, though, the curve becomes fairly flat. Visitors continue to leave a page, but much more slowly than they did during the first 30 seconds.

If you can get people to stay for 30 seconds, there’s a good chance that they’ll stay longer — “often 2 minutes or more, which is an eternity on the web,” Nielsen writes.

“How long will users stay on a webpage before leaving? It’s a perennial question, yet the answer has always been the same: Not very long,” Nielsen writes. “To gain several minutes of user attention, you must clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds.”

  • Get Clicked, Read, Shared & Liked in Portland

    Online, constant problem solving (to click or not to click?) and divided attention (you’ve got mail!) lead to cognitive overload. (One researcher even found that reading on the screen temporarily lowers your IQ more than smoking weed!)

    “Try reading a book while doing a crossword puzzle,” writes Nicholas G. Carr, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. “That’s the intellectual environment of the Internet.”

    So, in this environment, how do we reach readers online?

    Portland Online Writing workshopAt Get Clicked, Read, Liked and Shared — a two-day online-writing Master Class on July 27-28 in Portland — you'll learn techniques for overcoming the obstacles of reading on the screen to get the word out on the web, in social media and via content marketing.

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    • Create Content Marketing Pieces That Almost Write Themselves: Get our fill-in-the-blanks templates for tipsheets, survey stories and more.
    • Cut Through the Clutter Online: Overcome the obstacles of reading on the screen.
    • Lift Ideas Off the Screen: Draw visitors in, increase open rates — even reach nonreaders — with microcontent.
    • Get an online writing workout with Wylie: Take your blog post, webpage or status update from 'meh' to masterpiece when you practice your new skills on your own work.

    Learn more about the Master Class.

    Register for Online Writing Workshop in Portland.

    Browse all upcoming Master Classes.

    Would you like to hold an in-house Get Clicked, Read, Shared & Liked workshop? Contact Ann directly.


One Response to “Pass the 10-second test”
  1. Great article. I will be dealing with some of these issues as well.

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