The 3 second test to see if your website is doing it’s job

In our fast-paced world, you have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention and let them know they are in the right place. If you don’t they could leave your website, potentially never to return.

Your website has one simple job to do in those first few seconds: tell me exactly what it is you sell and pique my interest enough that I look around and browse your products.

There are so many important elements that your website needs to have. It can seem overwhelming to know what to start with.

I developed this test when I was a global marketing consultant and used to work with big teams. Large eCommerce brands have so many moving parts, I would regularly do this test as a quick and easy way of seeing if we were on track, or completely off.

Use this one simple test to know if your website is doing its job, or if you still have work to do on it.

The super-simple test your website needs to pass

The 3-second test is a really simple test that I developed to see if your website is ready for traffic or not.

Here’s how you do the three-second test:

  1. Take a screenshot of your website as it appears before you start to scroll
  2. Show the screenshot to someone for 3 seconds – and only 3 seconds
  3. Ask that person “what do you think my website sells?”

Important: Make sure you ask people who do not already know what you sell.

If they answer correctly you pass the 3 second test and you know that your site does the job of telling people what you sell within 3 seconds.

If they can’t answer or answer incorrectly, you don’t pass the 3 second test and you have some work to do.

The impact of embracing the 3 second test

When we first came across Colleen from Ride Proud Clothing her website looked like this:


We ran the 3 second test and honestly couldn’t tell you clearly what she sold.

We guessed:

  • Shirts
  • Saddlery
  • Even timber panels

When in fact, she sold bootleg pants. Colleen joined eComm Ignitor and got to work on her website.

She did such a fantastic job that she now passes the 3 second test with flying colours. She is an A++ student and her website is a great example of what an online store should do, which is tells me exactly what it is she sells.


What if you don’t pass the 3 second test?

Often, you are too close to your product and you think everyone knows as much about your business as you do.

If you don’t pass the 3 second test, revisit your website and think about what information people need to know what it is you sell.

You need an image that clearly represents your product and a headline that tells me exactly what you sell.

Final word

You have 3 seconds to capture your potential customers’ attention and tell them exactly what it is that you sell. By doing this simple, yet powerful, 3 second test regularly you can have confidence that your website is doing its job.

Written by Megan Winter

Megan is an award-winning marketer and has worked with some of the fastest-growing eCommerce brands in the world.

Megan loves helping ethically-produced, heart-centred, soul-driven online store owners to make more income and achieve more impact. 

eCommerce Facebook ad challenge

About Karyn Parkinson

Karyn (“with a Y!”) is an eCommerce marketing specialist with a knack for high-converting Facebook ad funnels and website optimisation. Through her eCommerce marketing agency and on-the-pulse training programs, Karyn’s helped hundreds of eCommerce store owners across the globe boost profits, generate more revenue, and achieve an ad-spend ROI of their dreams.