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In this article, The Five Second Test In Usability Testing, we will discuss what this test is and what it means in the design and usability process. 

We will also include and discuss the following topics



What is a 5 second test?

So you may wonder what is a five second test or what is the first click testing? The 5 second test is a type of usability testing that measures how a design quickly communicates a message. This is a type of testing that provides both qualitative and quantitative research feedback that helps optimize a design for first impressions.

To run a five second test, you simply have to show an image to the participants for 5 seconds. After, the participant answers a set of questions based on the things remembered of the design at first impression.

The image test could be anything from a website pages, web designs, app designs, a prototype, wireframe, logo, copy, etc. Anything that is used to communicate a message. 


Why use five seconds?

The five second testing is based on a study that found that visitors only spend seconds or within the first 5 seconds in assessing a website before they decide to stay or leave. 

One study shows that it only takes milliseconds for visitors to get the first impression on a website and decide whether they stay or leave

Another study found out that 55% of visitors spend less than 15 seconds deciding whether to stay on the page or leave


How useful is the five second test in the design process?

Since it only takes a few seconds for users to decide whether to stay or not on a website at first impressions, it is but important that we care about this data when it comes to the design process.

The 5 second test can be useful in preparing high-fidelity designs and you have run a couple of usability tests. 

For example, you made several series of usability tests for a project. You already acquired some feedback and already done with the changes based on this feedback. 

So now, you have several design options on some sections of this project that you feel are useful for the users. 

You can do several options in this case:

1. You proceed with using all the options and conduct A/B split testing in order to get the best version for your users.

2. You can opt for the 5 second test to know your options through qualitative research data. Depending on how confident you are with the results, you can choose to release the best performing option or use the shortlisted options and then measure them with A/B testing. 

<insert photo of high fidelity designs options here>

It really boils down to the kind of project you are working on and the timelines you have. You can always tweak the suggestions above to get the desired results for you.


Limitations to the 5-second test

The five second test is a simple user test and may not be suited for testing flows or designs that call for multiple interactions and tasks.

As an example, if you want to test a complete checkout experience, the 5 second test alone may not provide you with the appropriate results. 

So in this case, other than the five second tests, you need an additional test method to get more insights along with moderated and unmoderated usability testing. 


How to conduct a five second test?

If you are already familiar with usability testing, the five second tests method is pretty similar. 

It starts with the preparation of your website or design for testing. You need to also prepare the instructions and the participants.


Step 1: Determine what to test and what your goal is

We are redesigning an app’s onboarding process for example. The first screen includes a short intro description and the company’s tagline. 

So the goal is to this if this message is clear to your target users and if it speaks directly to your product’s unique selling point at five seconds.

To know this, you decide to use the five second test to get the initial impressions. You then ask the participants what they think your app does and their first impression of your screen. 

You’ve set the effectiveness of your message to be no more less than 80%. 


Step 2: Upload the image and create the test

So once you have figured out what to test, it is time to create the 5 second tests. You may simply use a user test tool that lets you upload an image or screenshot for your users to view.  

To determine if the design and message are clear to your participants, you ask them a question. In this case, we can ask the users first, “Based on what you saw, what do you think this app does?”


Step 3: Publish the test and share 

If you have the tool for this kind of test, all you need to do is to publish the test and share the link with your participants. 


Step 4: Analyze the results

Once all participants finished the test, you can start going through the comments section to read whether the 5 second tests is a success. 

Some users test apps also let you easily share the 5 seconds test results with stakeholders to improve user experience.


Some useful tips when conducting your 5 second test

There are several ways to recruit participants. You may do the manual method or use a UX testing tool to help you find the right participants. 

User test tools can also provide you an easier way to conduct your 5 second test. Some tools let you upload your mockup design, select the viewing duration for your participants, and then add the questions after.

Remember to not reveal any details that may hint at some bias answers or results. If possible, get a copywriter to review the questions and make some changes if necessary.  

When it comes to the question, remember that this is very important and the key to knowing whether your participants understand your message. 

Here are several suggested questions that you can ask when doing your 5 second testing:

  • How would you describe the design?
  • What is your first impression of the design?
  • What is the main thing you recall?
  • What do you like best about the design?
  • What do you like least about the design?
  • What do you want to change about the design?

One of the best ways to get the results is to avoid telling the users what they need to do after the 5 seconds test. This is very important as you want to really get unbiased first impressions and their real reactions. 

By capturing your viewers’ initial reactions, you can identify whether the content page is clear and accurate. 

If the page is clear, expect that your participants can easily recall the content and can accurately identify the page’s purpose. 

When it comes to interpreting your results, you may discuss the pros and cons with your team like what are the designs that emerged out of the 5 second test. From here, you can easily finalize the design that you would like to use. 


Conclusion

The five second test is one of the easiest ways to optimize a web site, app, page, copy, or prototype for user experience. This type of user test can be created quickly and can be distributed to as many participants as you like to yield test results and valuable insights. 

And as participants are flooded with lots and lots of digital content, it is but essential to make the first good impression. And the easiest way to get the desired result is to conduct a 5 second testing.

Mary Ann Dalangin

About the author

A content marketing strategist and a UX writer with years of experience in the digital marketing industry.

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