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The 59 Second Rule: Don’t Give Users a Reason to Leave Your Website

7130919911_fdf88087df_z-636x477Your website represents who you are and what you offer.

How long do visitors stay on your website before clicking away?

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, most users stick around less than 59 seconds. So, if you don’t capture the user’s attention in less than a minute, you’ve lost them.

I’ve dubbed this “the 59 Second Rule.”

Basically, if you haven’t generated interest in 59 seconds then you probably aren’t going to.

When people see it for the first time they are thinking:

  • Is this doctor’s office credible?
  • Is the site trustworthy?
  • Is this a professional office?
  • Is this a stable business?
  • Do they make me feel comfortable and welcome?
  • Are they right for me?

You need to ask yourself all of these questions when designing your medical website. Now, design may not be the most important factor in a website overall and often-times folks put too much emphasis on how a site looks instead of it works, but it does play an important role in making a good first impression.

For example, an in-depth study from the Stanford University and Consumer Web Watch, “How Do People Evaluate A Website’s Credibility? Results from a Large Study,” found that a website’s design was more important than credibility indicators such having a privacy policy, awards or certifications.

We are always concerned with how the site looks and how it functions. We strongly believe that the site design (layout, colors, etc.) and usability (navigation, functionality), go hand-and-hand in developing the overall site impression.

Let’s take a look at the website menu to illustrate this concept.

A menu can have many different types of looks and ways it can function. It can be minimal, only showing main menu items and little else. It can have a dropdown effect, showing additional pages on a hover or click. Individual menu items can have different colors on hovering with the mouse.   The dropdown menu can have shadowing, dropdown with different effects, etc. The important point here is that whatever method is chosen to display your menu items; that method will have an significant impact on how the site looks.

Perhaps one of the biggest factors to keep visitors on your website is having a good, solid navigation system that supports all search preferences. In fact, more than three-quarters of survey respondents from a recent study say that the most important element in website design is ease in finding information.


most-important-parts-of-a-website


While not exhaustive, some other important design and usability elements to consider to make sure folks stay for at least 59 seconds:

  • Flash. Avoid use of complicated JavaScript and especially Flash for your navigation.
    Many mobile phones can’t see Flash (yet), thus they won’t be able to navigate your website.
    Same applies to web browsers that don’t have an updated version of Flash installed.
  • Simplicity. Keep the structure of your primary navigation simple (and near the top of
    your page). Include navigation in the footer of your site.
  • Make searching easy. Include a Search box near the top of your site so visitors can
    search by keywords.
  • Maintain consistency. For layout structure, typically three page layouts exist for most
    websites: one for the homepage, one for content pages and one for form pages. For example,
    your homepage will have a different layout than a landing or contact page.
  • Typography. Make sure your website is legible. Use fonts, font sizes and font colors
    that are easy to read.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Eva the Weaver.

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