5-second test. Evaluate users’ first impression

Ignasi Fernández 6m of reading

The 5-second test helps you gather valuable information about users’ perception when they land on your website or app. Users, when entering a digital environment, look for signals that indicate whether they have arrived at the right place. This analysis is very quick, and depending on their initial impression, users will either start interacting with the interface or simply leave. The 5-second test assists in increasing the volume of people who will engage with your website or app.

What is the 5-second usability test?

The 5-second test, also known as the 5 seconds test, is a UX research methodology that assesses the first impression a user gets when visiting a website or using an application. The premise is simple yet impactful: a user should be able to understand the value proposition and main functionality of a site within just 5 seconds. If a high percentage of users fail to draw the necessary conclusions or if the conclusions are not as expected, it may be necessary to reconsider the interface design.

The five-second test is part of the set of moderate usability tests, where users are interviewed by a UX researcher. The test can be conducted in-person, although it is often done remotely to incorporate a broader range of users.

When to conduct the 5-second test?

This test is typically carried out in the early stages of the design phase. With user-validated design, development and programming can proceed with confidence that the product will convey the desired first impression. Common use cases for the 5-second test include:

  • Launching new websites or apps: Evaluating a new design among users who haven’t experienced it before.
  • Redesigning a website or app: Investigating potential interface improvements and validating the first impression before making changes.
  • High bounce rate in Google Analytics: If interaction-free sessions are high or have recently increased, it may indicate that the website design is not convincing users to engage. In such cases, the five-second test helps confirm or discard hypotheses.

Why choose the 5-second test?

The five-second test offers multiple benefits:

  • Speed and efficiency: It’s easy to design and conduct, can be done with static images, requiring no investment in development, and can be performed in the early stages of design.
  • First impressions: Captures users’ initial impressions, crucial for their decision to stay or leave. A higher retention rate on the website or app can make a difference in business outcomes.
  • Easy implementation: Can be conducted with a small group of users and doesn’t require extensive knowledge in UX research, making it accessible for many companies’ UX teams.

The 5-second test can be used in combination with other UX tests that evaluate specific aspects of the user experience, such as click testing, card sorting, tree testing, or quantitative UX surveys.

How to conduct a 5-second test?

The five-second test is easy and quick to implement following these steps.

Define objectives

Make a list of everything you want to find out. That will be the basis for the questionnaire you will use in the interviews. For example, you can inquire about the following topics:

  • Category Attribution: What is the website or application dedicated to? What does it offer?
  • Brand Attribution: Which company or brand does the page belong to?
  • Identification with the Target Audience: Who do you think the page is targeting? Is it suitable for someone like you?
  • Image Attributes: What impressions does the page give you? To what extent does it convey trust or professionalism?
  • Design Elements: What elements of the page do you remember? What were your thoughts on them? This list is not exhaustive. You can add other topics relevant to your research objectives.

Select participants

A minimum of 20 people from your target audience should participate in the test. You may be able to recruit participants from your own database. If you can’t or prefer not to, you can also access user and consumer panels that will provide samples meeting the characteristics you need. Opting for a panel allows you to reach people who may not have been exposed to your brand before and, therefore, are more representative of your total potential customers.

Although the 5-second test is fundamentally qualitative, the larger your sample, the more rich information you will obtain. A broader sample will give you a better idea of the extent to which users perceive certain aspects of your page as expected or not.

Show your website or app to users

Ask them to carefully examine the image you are about to show them, but do not indicate that they will only have five seconds or what you will ask them afterwards. This way, they will face the page in the typical context of a user in real life.

A functional web or app in operation or production is not necessary. You just have to show an image as finished as possible representing the design you plan to implement on your website or app. Since users won’t have to interact with the image, menus or buttons don’t need to be functional.

Collect information

Once users have examined the image, interview them in a natural and relaxed manner using the interview guideline. Use it as a guide, but don’t strictly limit yourself to it. If users bring up topics you hadn’t anticipated, allow them to express themselves freely, gather that additional information before returning to the questionnaire.

Conducting the 5-second test through a specialised platform will provide technological advantages. For instance, you can record the interview to review it as many times as needed. Additionally, artificial intelligence can assist in transcribing the interviews and consolidating responses into common themes, facilitating the analysis.

The 5-second test with We are testers

We are testers’ research platform offers a specific solution for conducting the 5-second test. You can use your own users or select a sample of people meeting your criteria from our testers. The platform allows you to create the test with just a few clicks, and you can either moderate the interviews yourself or enlist the help of a UX research specialist. Get in touch with our experts to learn all the details and create your own five-second tests today.

Update date 16 January, 2024

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