5sec test for simple website validation

Stop asking for generic Landing page feedback. Do a 5sec test. How to check if people understand what your website is about

Dec 15, 2021

Jan 13, 2022



 min read

Communities for new founders are great. People share their struggles and tips. Tools and workflows. There's one thing founders do wrong: test their landing pages with other founders. When these makers are not their target audience.

Besides getting generic feedback, website design might be made for founders instead of their users. 
Designers suffer from the same issues, they make something to please other designers.

How to ask your audience for feedback?

Do a 5 seconds test. It's a user research method to get your audience's perception of your landing page. Not if they will buy whatever you are selling, but if they “get it”.

Why 5 seconds?

As people have limited attention and cognitive span: If something is not clear after 5 seconds and their intent is low (they “don' care” in UX terms). Visitors will most certainly close your website beyond  5 to 10 seconds.

The good news is that you don't have to describe your offering completely. Just grab their attention.

Loading and attention timeline to grab interest. 0 to 5 Seconds.
Loading and attention timeline to grab interest. 0 to 5 Seconds.

How to do a 5 seconds test?

You can show people an image of your landing page. PNG or JPG. You don't even have to code your website. 
It's a great lean method of building a product, in this case, a website. While you can do it in person, with a timer. I recommend using a dedicated tool for that.

Ask them one simple question after 5 seconds elapsed:
What do you think the landing page is offering?

Question for a 5 seconds user test

Question for a 5 seconds user test

What is the best tool to run a 5-sec test?

My favorite is  Maze. It's free with a limited feature set. But luckily a 5sec test is included in the free package. 

It's easy to use and great user experience. After all, they have to set a high bar. 

Here's a link to their  tutorial about 5 seconds test.

Maze user research tool website

Maze user research tool website

5-second test example

Here's a little experiment I did for a website I designed. I did cheat in this case as I asked my Twitter followers to run the test. It was for this article. Share the test with your audience. More how to find them below.

Tweet I used to gather feedback from my followers. A test as ideally should be your target audience.

Tweet I used to gather feedback from my followers. A test as ideally should be your target audience.

In a couple of hours, I received replies and comments. In my example, they turned out pretty good as I already did some research and pivoted a little on the product. But you get the idea.

Answers in Maze results dashboard

Answers in Maze results dashboard

If visitors don't get it. Change your messaging or design. Ask other people again to do the test. Don't discourage yourself, it's called iteration in design lingo. 

In the end, you'll reduce the number of hours for coding new versions of your website.

How to find your audience?

If you build your product the right way, chances are that you know where your potential users hang out. If you didn't some of the best places are social media or your circle of friends. If your friends might be interested. 

Chances are that there is a Reddit community around your topic. 

Here's the trick. You need to ask people directly in the beginning.  It's tedious work but worth it.

Here's an example of a script I used to ask for help. Makes sure to make it personal.  

Harry from  Marketing Examples has more around proper cold emailing or DMs.

Sorry for the message out of the blue. Fellow <Community name> member here.

I saw you <action that implies they would be interested>. Wanted to share with you a side project I’ve been working on around this topic.

Would you be willing to do a 5-second test and give me some quick feedback? 
It would be very helpful to refine it and share it with everyone. 
Here is the link.
<add a link to test here>

Have a lovely day

There have been plenty of  studies on human psychology. If you ask someone directly it will increase your response rate dramatically. Even more, if you give them a reason why.
I wrote about other simple research methods that are useful. Specifically for designing a better landing page.

🐟 Just give me the fish

Do a 5-second test with your target audience. Don't ask for generic feedback from other founders or designers. Use Maze or other similar user research tools. 
Find your user testers amongst the community of potential users.
Refine your landing page design until people get what you offer.