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April 13, 2011

Your Website Has Just 8 Seconds


Researchers have found that when people arrive at a website, at least 50% of them will leave that website within 8 seconds.

We know this because it’s worth a lot of money to huge corporations to know how people use the internet. They want to know what people like and dislike, and what they do and don’t do. These huge corporations have spent millions on research so that they can figure all this out.

All of this information is in the public domain and we can access it. The best bit is that the information these corporations have funded is just as valid for knowing how your website visitors behave.

To repeat, researchers have found that when people arrive at a website, on average 50% of them will leave that website within 8 seconds.

In other words, if your website doesn’t do something WITHIN 8 SECONDS to keep them there, at least 50% of them will leave. For you, it could even be 60% or 80%.

There was an old metaphor doing the rounds when the web first started, and sadly it’s how a lot of businesses still view their websites. “The internet is like a huge gigantic shopping centre and your website is a shop. Everybody gets to come and browse your shop”. Rubbish. It’s more accurate if we imagine that the people in this mall are walking at 60mph and they are looking for something very specific, and they only have 15 minutes to find it. They are only ever going to go into the places that obviously provide those services or goods, and if the shop looks as though it doesn’t, or they wouldn’t feel comfortable in that shop, they aren’t stopping, let alone coming inside.

Think about how you use the web. You SURF THE WEB. Think about the phrase ‘surf the web’. It means you go from one site to the next, to the next, to the next. You do it because you can, and you don’t stop until something interests you or catches your eye. You now know that even when you do stop, there is a 50% chance you will probably leave in 8 seconds if it doesn’t quickly become apparent that it has what you’re looking for.

That’s the challenge you and I face.

We Have To Get Visitors To Stop Surfing And Interact With Us

How do we do this? Here are three ways:

1. Use Headlines

Look at your own website. If you don’t have a headline in the form of words, then your ‘headline’ is whatever your visitor first sees when they arrive at your page. It might be a logo, a graphic, a picture or a piece of blank screen, or worse a lame piece of text like ‘Welcome’, or ‘We have been in existence since 1982′. Be honest with yourself and ask – would this stop ME surfing? If you have nothing compelling to grab the visitor’s attention, then he’s gone.

Remember that the headline is the first thing that’s going to grab me, and interest me; and it needs to be compelling enough to stop me surfing.

Just making this one small change will make a big difference for you. If you are using a headline on your brochures or any other advertising and it works, then use it on your website.

2. Use ‘The Fold’

Make sure that your compelling headline and content appears above ‘the fold’ of your website. ‘The Fold’ is a newspaper phrase. Imagine you are reading a large newspaper, and you have to fold it in half to read the top half before turning over to read underneath. The equivalent on your website is what people see before they have to scroll down the page to read the rest.

So, going back to your website – what do you see before you have to scroll down? This plays directly into the 8 second rule. If you haven’t given the visitor a compelling reason to stop surfing, he/she probably won’t even scroll down.

If you are announcing your new CEO, the fact that you just won an industry award, or providing a long winded introduction or history of your company above the fold, your visitor is not going to be staying.

3. Walk in Your Visitor’s Shoes

Put yourself in the shoes of your potential clients. They have found you on the web because they have specifically looked for you, and Google has considered your site relevant to what they are looking for. What are they interested in? What concerns them? What problem do they have that they want someone to solve?

As a business owner, you are, of course, close to your business. You know it inside out. The temptation then is to write about your business on your homepage and that can be a big mistake.

The truth is people don’t CARE about your business.

Don’t take it personally. I’m sure they are all very nice people, and so are you; but that’s not what they are there for.

They are there because it’s likely that you have something they need. In short, they have a selfish self-interest and it needs meeting.

If you can meet that self-interest by talking directly to them about how to solve their problem and challenges, you will have a chance of stopping them surfing.

Go to your website as if you were a first-time visitor. Be tough on yourself and ask yourself if you are really captivating your visitors in those first 8 seconds in a way that stops them surfing.

Neil Holley-Williams runs HW Marketing UK, a company providing marketing advice for small businesses and start-up businesses. HW Marketing UK also provide very affordable website design and SEO for small and medium sized businesses. Neil has worked in the IT industry for over 25 years as a freelance for companies such as IBM, Carnival UK, Invesco Perpetual and Skandia Life. For more free information visit

31 Responses to “Your Website Has Just 8 Seconds

    Nice article i like this Use ‘The Fold’ part…Sam

    avatar Ed Rude says:

    8 Seconds to convince the surfer to stop and click on something.

    8 seconds to move the person from teh first fold to the lower regions of the web-page
    8 Seconds to convince a stranger taht you can solve his/her problems and gain them money, love, convenience, safety or health, thus fulfilling their self-interest needs.
    Great article.

    avatar Adam says:

    Great article.

    I’ve had a look over my key pages and i can see areas in need of improvements. Find it very difficult to include a snappy title but also benefit from excellent seo techniques. My site is Photocopiers, have a look and see what you think. Always open for comments

    avatar keresooptimalizalas kiskapu says:

    8 sec? Is’t it too long?

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    avatar geoff Lord says:

    Thanks for that very useful information, Its one one of those bits of advice we know about but then forget to implement. I just reviewed my site and made a couple of changes as a result of reading this article. Thanks

    Geoff Lord
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    avatar Andrew says:

    I have just watched a video making the claim about visitors leaving a website within 8 seconds like it is a revelation! Jakob Nielsen’s original guidelines going back over 10 years referred to the phenomena of people surfing quickly from one site to the other if the website wasn’t compelling or what the surfer thought the site was going to be about!

    Nothing has really changed since then only it’s tougher to get people to your website in the first place :)

    Great article and tips Neil


    avatar Mike says:

    I’m sorry, what was the study, could you provide a link?

    My web site is very good promoted, and is the first on google search by the key words salon coafura ploiesti

    avatar Judi bola online says:

    Good website/blog is good content. Just give our readers the huge benefits from our website.
    Thanks for advise

    Superbly written article, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a far better place.

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    avatar Hagee says:

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    avatar Hagee says:

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    avatar hairlosscure says:

    Thanks for sharing the info, keep up the good work going

    all the post written in in this has a detailed report..
    thank u…

    Thanks for your insight for your fantastic posting. I’m glad I have taken the time to see this.

    […] Be terse – much less is extra when you only have seconds. […]

    avatar Stan Arnold says:

    Great article. I’m a copywriter, and constantly have to suggest (diplomatically) to my designer friends that key information should be stationary and above the fold.

    The latest design fads are carousels, big photographs taking up the top part of the site and scrolling pages that go on for ever. I’ve even seen a site with the call to action on scroll-down page 13. You might have heard, the idea that your website should ‘tell a story’. No. You can tell people a story when you have them locked in a room. But with 8 seconds, you have to bang the key facts home, pronto. Rant over. Well done.

    Superbly written article, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a far better place.
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    avatar Sing Kar says:

    Found this article is my pleasure, I do shoes business online, i need the expert as you. If you can go to our company and join our company, that would be great! I agree all of your opinion of yours, and if you can provide me more tips on how to improve my business, I will be glad to hear them.

    avatar Results 2016 says:

    Yeah, we can even make it less than 8 seconds due to the page loading speed. If your website doesn’t load within 1 second, most of the people leave it and go for another result. I also agree with your points and want to add few more points. First of all it depends on niche too, for example my website writes about exam results and government job notifications. These will keep visitors more time because of that topic.

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