Improving Time Spent Surfing

If you think about your own web-surfing habits, you won’t be surprised to find out there’s a great difference in the amount of time that people spend on various web pages.


Basically, according to web usability expert Jakob Nielsen (and this recent update of his), when people land on a web page, they ruthlessly assess whether it’s what they’re looking for … in a very short amount of time.  We’re talking about ten seconds for them to determine whether the page you’ve created is what they’re looking for.

If they find your page useful, they may stick around and actually spend several minutes on it.  But that’s after you pass their unconscious, ten-second test.  How much they love your brand … or their experience with you … probably has little to do with their judgment process.


Now, web pages don’t exist in a vacuum.  Your site visitors who go to one of your pages almost certainly have something in mind … that is, they have expectations … when they land on that page.  They are looking for something in particular.  Don’t count on anybody just going from web page to web page hoping to be aimlessly entertained!  So you have to meet their expectations.

The good news about this is that once you show your fans that you put up web pages that are clean, concise, well-written and lacking in jargon and cliches, they are more likely to trust you next time.  This is not because they like your brand … it’s because they unconsciously learn to trust your web abilities.

You could say that usability, when it comes to web pages, is like creativity when it comes to broadcasting.  Or, in the words of Roy Williams, the “Wizard of Ads,” “Clarity is the new creativity.


Want some tips on how to create pages that are super-usable?

  • Edit what you write ruthlessly.
  • Don’t sell … explain.  (Clarity … not creativity)
  • Create web pages with a single focus … that are about one thing and one thing only.
  • Create web pages that have to do with your brand.
  • Use a consistent font from page to page to page and a consistent color scheme.
  • As Jakob Nielsen says, “communicate your value proposition within the first 10 seconds.”  To me … that means make it very, very clear what you’re saying on that page.

This particular study that Jakob Nielsen writes about doesn’t say it … but having logical, clear web pages that anticipate what your fans are coming to your site for will increase your page views and the amount of time people spend at your site.


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