The 5-Second Test

By Samantha Silver

customer-experience-3024488_1280     First impressions have always mattered, and this is no exception for website pages or apps. First impressions help users understand what a site or app is all about, and whether or not they want to continue spending more time on it. There is so much content out there these days; users are quick to decide how and where they wish to spend their time. This is why as researchers it is important to consider the usefulness of the 5-second test when creating new content or designs. This article will explain what the 5-second test is, as well as how to carry it out in three simple steps.


      First off, let’s begin with what the 5-second test is. One of the best parts of the 5-second test is that it is exactly what it sounds like; users are exposed to a single content page for 5 seconds and then after, they are asked simple questions (“test”) regarding the content on that page. The 5-second test is both a simple and effective to capture valuable qualitative and quantitative data regarding a specific site or application. This is because it is fast and easy to deploy to a larger number of users, as well as gains valuable insight into users opinions and experiences. How much easier can a usability test get?

      You may be thinking, 5 seconds is too short of a time for anyone to make an opinion about anything. In fact, 5 seconds is plenty of time for a user to decide if there is enough quality content for them to spend more time, or for them to leave. As seen through looking at user’s scrolling and attention habits, users make quick decisions about what to use all the time. This why it is important to utilize the 5-second test. It can capture what information users are being exposed to and the type of first impression that this is making on users and potential users.

    The 5 second test is a simple user experience test that can be conducted easily and effectively. Below are three easy steps for carrying out your own 5 second test.

The 5-Second Test in 3 Steps:

  1. Create a design to test.
    Before you can conduct your test, you have to have content to show users. Create a design to test. Remember that this will be the user’s first impression of the site or app. Make sure that it is clear and concise. Focus on what is important for the user to understand or know.

  2. Show for 5 seconds and then test.
    Show your users the design or content for five seconds. Once the time is up, ask them questions about what they remember based on what they saw. Some questions you can ask include:
            - What do you think this page was about?
            - What is your first impression?
            - Are there any words or sentences you can remember?
            - Are there any images you can remember?
            - What grabbed your attention?

  3. Get results.
    See how users respond to the content. Record users responses to the questions you asked. Notice any recurring themes, frustrations, phrases, etc. that appear in users answers.

     One of the easiest ways to optimize the UX of a specific page or app is through conducting a 5-second test. It can be created easily and quickly, and as a result, can be distributed to many users and yield valuable results. As users are flooded with more and more content, it is important to make a good first impression and the 5 second test helps us accomplish just that.


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