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Let’s take the time machine way back to the good ol’ days. There once was a time when people waited. It was a magical time when folks stopped to talk on the street and books were as thick as five stacked laptops. And would you believe that we had attention spans back then? I know, it is almost unfathomable. But that is how it was. They were good times.

Back to the present day. That mythical past is now just the stuff of legend. The stuff we will tell our kids about. This next part might come as a shock, but remember those things called attention spans? Gone. Extinct. Snuffed out. We simply cannot afford them. There are far too many things to do, and if we have to spend real time doing them, well then maybe they are just not worth it.

Alright, I exaggerate a bit. But as you will see, it is for good reason. In this world of search engine optimization, there is a direct relationship between attention spans and successful websites. Put simply, the less time it takes for customers to figure out your website, the more likely you are to get the sale. Take lots of time getting to the point and your potential customers are gone.

Let’s break down that concept further. Here is a list of things that will send your site viewers packing in no time:

1. Your site takes too long to load

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. You go to buy a product knowing that a few sites sell it. It really does not matter who you buy it from, you just want it done. The first site you visit takes 30 seconds to load but you were gone at 10. The next site loads fine except for the product images. You exit, wondering what good a site is that can’t display the product images. You end up buying at a site that loads in a few seconds, images and all.

What you say? That first site was yours? Big bummer.

2. You do not have a clear call to action

What exactly do you want your viewers to do? Click on one of the hundred links in your sidebar? Read some more about your product? Visit your mother’s blog? Or do you want them to BUY? A clear call to action tells your viewer, “What you are looking for is right here behind this button – click it, click it, click it!” Sure there are other things you want them to know, but forget about those for now. Your call to action should punch them in the face (figuratively).

3. Your important stuff is hidden in a mess of text or in some obscure location

What good is a killer call to action if they can’t find it? What good is your ‘offer to beat all offers’ if they have to scroll down 3 miles just to see it? Keep the good stuff above the fold* so they see it right when the page loads. If you send your viewers on an Easter egg hunt, they will be through with you.

4. Your viewers have no idea what you are talking about

Let’s say you are trying to win over new customers with your site. Are you chasing them away with industry jargon? If you have got this fabulous new product that you are trying to break out of its niche, are you explaining it in terms everyone will understand? The second a viewer runs into stuff they know they don’t understand, you have lost them.

5. Your checkout process takes longer than your viewer’s lunch break

Congratulations. They love your product and want to buy it. What have you done to make it easy on them? Is it as simple as throwing it in the cart and purchasing? Or do they have to wander through a maze of shipping addresses, billing addresses, additional offers, products they might like, and waivers? If you can’t shave it down to a few simple steps, your competitor sure can.

No terribly complicated stuff here, but allow me to make an observation about it. Very few businesses get around to making changes based on the list above. It is not that they don’t get the Marketing 101 principles. It is more likely they have a love affair with their site. It may not be the prettiest or smartest thing out there, but it is theirs by golly, and they are sticking with it. They invested time and money, and they really grew to like it along the way. I get that, and those people are not going to change on my account. So this is for the other group. The ones who are ready to make their site pretty and smart.

So there you have it folks. Now that we have adjusted to the change from the old ways to this new, flighty society, it is time to give our websites the attention they need. A few tweaks to make it more A.D.D. friendly and you will have a winner.