You only have a couple of seconds to grab someone’s attention – it doesn’t matter what medium the person is on. Use the billboard test for your website headlines.
The average driver has 5-10 seconds to view a billboard as they pass on the highway, but they have to navigate all that comes with safe driving during that time. Because of this, most professionals agree that billboards should be no longer than seven words. Just seven.
I would argue that we should treat every website headline the same way.
On a website, you have approximately 15 seconds to capture the user’s attention. Not much longer than the highway driver. It is easy to assume that we have a more captive audience because they are on our website, but this isn’t the case. They are always subconsciously deciding if they are interested in spending more of their attention with you.
Headlines are the easiest way to capture interest and describe what you stand for. Each headline is a chance to communicate something concrete and captivating. Remember, website content is best when it is skimmable (Sin #6).
Here are some tips on your website headlines:
Keep it Short: Aim for 7-10 words. You have a little more wiggle room than the billboard designer, but you need to make it easy to comprehend.
Make it Specific: You only have a short window to capture attention. Make your headline concrete. “We Help People Do Stuff” isn’t going to cut it. Hone your message. “We Help Dentists Double Thier Patient Load” is much more compelling if that is what you aim to do. You will stand out if this is how you speak to your website users. Headlines should sound like your business, not all the others – if anyone in your industry can say it, should you?
Use a Headline Analyzer: I like to run headlines through an analyzing tool to see how I can improve them. Content Row makes one I frequently turn to for a no-fuss analysis and an affordable paid plan. If you want to dive deeper, CoSchedule’s analyzer is very detailed and more expensive if three headlines aren’t enough.
When it comes to effective communication and increased engagement, headlines matter; think of your website headlines like a million little billboards. Keep them short, specific, and creative, and improve your engagement and conversion rates!