Five Second Test

A usability testing method to evaluate the understandability and communication of essential elements in a website or application, providing quick and inexpensive feedback.

About

The Five Second Test is a usability testing method where participants are shown a design or webpage for five seconds and then asked to recall what they saw or understood. It's used to evaluate first impressions, visual hierarchy, and clarity of messaging. By limiting exposure to a brief window, the Five Second Test uncovers what stands out and what might be overlooked. It's particularly valuable in web design, advertising, and branding, where capturing attention and conveying essential information quickly is key.

Suitable for

  • identifying deficiencies in websites and applications,
  • verifying the understandability of a website or application,
  • quick and inexpensive feedback on a service.

Deliverables

Test Protocol

A detailed plan outlining the objectives, target audience, test materials and the step-by-step procedure to be followed when conducting the Five Second Test.


Screen Captures

High-quality images or screenshots of the design elements or webpages being tested, used as a reference material for participants during the test.


Participant Recruitment

A list of recruited participants that match the target user demographics and characteristics necessary for the test, including methods used to select and contact them.


Test Sessions

Recorded video or audio documentation of each test session, capturing the participant's interaction and verbal feedback when exposed to the design for five seconds.


Test Findings

A summary of key insights and patterns observed throughout the test sessions, focusing on whether the design effectively communicates its intended message or purpose.


Recommendations

A list of actionable recommendations based on the test findings, outlining potential improvements for the design.


Test Report

A comprehensive document compiling all the deliverables, test findings, and recommendations, presented in an easy-to-understand format for stakeholders or team members.

Procedure

1

Define the Objective

Clearly define the objective of your Five Second Test. Identify what specific elements, messages or branding aspects you want the users to take away from the website or design in question.

2

Create the Test

Design the test using tools like usabilityhub.com, where you can set up the test by uploading a screenshot or providing a URL of the page you want to test. Customize your test's duration (typically 5 seconds) and leave an optional space for additional comments or questions after the test.

3

Recruit Participants

Recruit an appropriate sample of participants (users) for the test. This can be a mix of existing users, target demographic users or general users. In some cases, you may also consider using paid recruitment services to find suitable test participants.

4

Conduct the Test

Share the test with the participants through a link or by embedding it on your website. Allow each participant to view the design or webpage for the given duration (5 seconds). After which, the screen should disappear and the users will be prompted to answer questions based on their first impression.

5

Gather Feedback

Collect user feedback after the test, including their ability to recall what they saw and their impression of the design. This typically includes asking questions related to their understanding of the site's purpose, key elements or messaging, and their overall impression. Focus on understanding what stood out to them and whether they could grasp the intended purpose or message.

6

Analyze the Results

Go through collected feedback to identify patterns and trends in user responses. Pinpoint areas where users recalled critical information and areas where they did not. Determine whether your design elements, messaging and branding were effective, and identify areas that need improvement.

7

Implement Changes

Use the insights gained from the Five Second Test to make necessary changes to your design, messaging and branding. Incorporate the identified improvements and retest your design with a new set of users to validate the changes are effective.

Prerequisites

Time

2 hours or more for preparation, 5 seconds per participant


Material

prototype or live version of a website or application, testing tool


People

1 researcher, 30 or more participants

Resources

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