The Four-Second Rule of Website Design

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, average attention spans in 2015 were just over eight seconds. Though this itself sounds short, the institute also found that attention spans maybe even shorter while surfing the web, as nearly twenty percent of reported page views lasted less than four seconds. So, in knowing that you have such a small window of time to connect with your visitors, what can be done to keep people on your site beyond the initial four seconds? First, ensure your site is fast loading and second, place your most engaging content readily in view of your visitors.

When discussing page toad speed, it is widely acknowledged that faster is better. After all, if visitors fail to find attention-grabbing content within the first four seconds of clicking through to your site, they may hit the back button in hopes of finding another site that will cater to their needs in a timelier way. To avoid losing your visitors before they even reach your content, always choose a hosting provider with consistently high-speed service and uptime guarantees. You should also optimize your website’s assets and code to further reduce page loading times.

Beyond choosing a fast and reliable hosting provider and optimizing your site’s assets and code to improve page load speed, you may also want to familiarize yourself with the concept of heatmapping. Various online heatmapping tools are available that can show you which portions of your pages draw the most visitor interaction. Using this information, rearrange your pages so your most engaging content is higher up on the page, so it can be more easily found by your website’s visitors.

In a world with ever-shortening attention spans, it’s becoming more important for website designers to consider the four-second rule when creating and optimizing their websites. To help retain your visitors beyond the first four seconds of their arrival, always ensure that your hosting provider provides fast and reliable service, that your website’s assets and code are optimized for reduced loading times, and that your site’s most engaging content is readily available to your website’s visitors.