Five-second tests are a user experience method that measures how well a design quickly communicates a message. The five-second tests provide both quantitative and qualitative feedback that helps optimize website design.
Five-second tests measure what information users take away and what impressions they get within the first five seconds of viewing the design. They are most commonly used to test if websites are effectively communicating their intended message.
These tests work by showing an image to the participant for only five seconds; after the five seconds are up, the participants answer questions based on their memory and impression of the design. Some of the questions that participants answer include:
- What is the purpose of the page?
- What are the main elements you can recall?
- Who do you think the intended audience is?
- Did the design/brand appear trustworthy?
- What was your impression of the design?
An example of five-second testing could be taking a look at the Target home page and trying to see what captures the user’s attention and if they need to change anything. Below is an image of the Target home page, and if this were to be included in the five-second test, users would only have five seconds to look at it and note all of the things they remember.
Why is it only five seconds? It’s because five seconds is long enough for good design to communicate its primary message. Studies have found that visitors only spend a few seconds assessing your website before deciding whether to stay or leave. On average, every page visit lasts less than a minute.
There are a couple of reasons that the five-second test will be implemented. The most common reasons companies decide to do this test are figuring out if people understand the product or service if they feel they will benefit from the page. The last most common reason is if people can recall the company or the product name.
When it comes to the results, they are straightforward to interpret. The simple way to organize results is into two categories, “Got it” and “Didn’t Get It.” The categories can be more complicated, depending on the company and what they are specifically looking for. It’s essential to pay close attention to the users’ feedback that “Didn’t Get It” because they will explain why they didn’t see what you were hoping they would. Everyone’s feedback is critical because they tell you what they see and what would make them stay on your site and make them leave.
It’s important to know when to do the five-second test. It’s only useful for first impressions, so if you need to measure more complex information, then another test type is more appropriate. For example, five-second testing is not suitable for:
- A page that has a lot of words
- Predicting user behavior
- Asking complex questions
Five-second testing is quick, easy to run, and can get the design team’s desired insights. In conclusion, five-second testing is a simple, easy way to figure out what users see when they go to your website.
“5 Second Usability Tests.” MeasuringU, measuringu.com/five-second-tests/.
Five Second Test, fivesecondtest.com/.
“An Introduction to Five Second Testing.” UsabilityHub, usabilityhub.com/guides/five-second-testing.
Reddy, Vishal. “What Is a 5-Second User Test and How Can It Help You in the Design Process?” Medium, UX Collective, 31 Aug. 2020, uxdesign.cc/what-is-a-5-second-user-test-and-how-can-it-help-you-in-the-design-process-4cc43c88e1ad.
World Leaders in Research-Based User Experience. “How Long Do Users Stay on Web Pages?” Nielsen Norman Group, http://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-long-do-users-stay-on-web-pages/.