UX Principle: Quick… Quick!

Blink, 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… Blink. The 5 seconds between your blinks is how long you have to grab the attention of your website users. Your users need to be able to understand where they are, what’s going on and what they need to do… All within 5 seconds.

To meet this challenge, people usually focus on doing all sorts of things to speed up their website, but speeding up your site won’t solve the ‘Quick’ principle. Sure, website page load time is important.  The quicker you can load your site the better.

The quick principle is not so much about speed, but about how quick your users understand what’s going on. For your users to stick around on your site, you need to understand why they’re there and what they’re there for.

But how do you deliver information quickly, in a way that tells people who you are, what you do and why they’re there?

To solve the conundrum of quickness, we need to use 3 UX powertools:

  1. Simplify
  2. Why
  3. Scent

Simplify and Give Them What They Want

Simplifying the words on your page will allow your users to quickly understand what you’re about and also why they’re there. Once they understand these 2 things, they’re engaged and ready to take the next action.

To Simplify isn’t to Dumb Down

Simplifying doesn’t mean you fill your website with easy words. “It’s about elegance and prioritization, not dumbing down” Chip and Dan Heath, Make it Stick

In the book Make it Stick, Chip and Dan Heath recommend finding the core of an idea. This means “stripping an idea down to it’s most critical essence. To get to the core, we’ve got to weed out the superfluous”.

Example: A good example is Mailchimp’s home page. Mailchimp have an amazing email marketing tool. They could introduce their email marketing tool within the intro such as:

“Our industry leading email marketing software allows you to communicate with your customers and you can track everything they do and personalise your messages to drive more engagement and therefore traffic to your website”

But rather than waffle on about how great their software is, Mailchimp communicate value simply and also pepper on the solution to the problem they solve – all within 1 title (beautiful):

“Build Your Brand. Sell More Stuff.”

Mailchimp Homepage 2018

Wow, how quick and easy is that? I’m engaged because that’s what I want to achieve (“Sell more stuff”), now I’m ready to find out how Mailchimp helps me to do that.

Action: Amend the following message by simplifying it to it’s core: “Podio: Project Management and Collaboration Software”. This seems pretty short, but can be simplified to remove the superflous and make it quicker to understand.

Write down how you would simplify before reading an example below.

Example: “Get organised and focus on the task at hand”

Simplification Can be Done Wrong

Sometimes it feels like you have simplified, but your message can still be ambiguous and therefore slow to understand. It’s usually because the message is focused on the thing on offer, rather than the reason your users are there.

Compare Mailchimp to one of their major competitors Campaign Monitor.

Campaign Monitor lead with the message:

“Send Email Your Customers Can’t Ignore.”

Campaign Monitor Home Page

This message is short and simple, but is mediocre in comparison to Mailchimp’s “Build Your Brand. Sell More Stuff”.

You could argue that they have included a “why”, but it’s not very strong. I’d rather sell more stuff, than send emails that my customers can’t ignore (sorry Campaign Monitor).

The wrong message will slow your users down as they begin to start thinking about why they’re there. Using the quick principle reminds us that we need to simplify for speed in understanding and tell them when they’re there.

Once You’ve Simplified, Start with the Why

As Simon Sinek says, “Start With Why inspires people to do the things that inspire them”. So, whilst stripping down our messaging to the core, think about the reason your users are there.

Using the Mailchimp example; the majority of Mailchimp’s customers are people who run ecommerce sites so their priority and their why (reason they’re on the site) is to “Sell More Stuff”.

By the way Checkout Simon Sinek’s famous talk – Start With Why; it will change the way you think forever.

Action: Now go back to the simplified message we used for Podio and add the why:

Simplified example: “Get organised and focus on the task at hand”.

Simplify + Why: “Get organised. Get your best work done”

Once you’ve sped up your message with ‘simplification’ and ‘why’, it’s time to guide your users to the place they want to go, without them even knowing they’re doing it!

Do your Users Know that They’ll Meet Expectation?

If users get a sense of what they expect quickly, they’ll continue with their journey and meet their expectation e.g. finding a product, viewing a property, etc.

Follow your nose

When animals hunt for food, they follow their nose to get to what they want. In UX terms, this is known as information scent. Like good ‘ol Pluto below, he’s picked up the scent of food and predicts he’ll be eating something delicious soon (not sure if caterpillars are delicious).

Pluto Information Foraging

Your users should be able to predict what they will find if they pursue a certain path through a website, otherwise known as information foraging.

Information Foraging

This information foraging theory, explains how users interact with your website using the analogy of animals hunting for food.

A quick understanding of your page is vital so that your users can pick up the trail and further information should be related so that they continue down the path and meet the expected.

Example: If I land on a website selling fine wine, then I expect to find Red Wines quickly, upon finding the red wine category, my next expectation is a catalogue of red wines and I continue down the trail, following my nose until I get the wine I want.

If a website is quick and easy, I should be able to follow my nose to get what I want. However, if the journey is interrupted with the wrong information and it’s sent me down a path I didn’t expect, then I may have to stop and ask for directions.

Information scent refers to the strength of a cue or series of cues which lead to a point within a website – REF: Web User Behaviour Directed by Information Scent – Interaction Design Foundation.

“I Shouldn’t Have to Stop and Ask for Directions”

Once your users are confused and they start questioning where they are, they begin looking for alternate routes (i.e. other websites) to get what they want.

By remembering information scent, we can get users to where they want to be quickly and intuitively (without thinking too much).


  • Keep language simple, not dumbed down but instead plain English that your users will understand
  • Clearly show the value you provide and the problem you’ll fix – start with the why
  • Give your users clear signposts to lead them in the direction toward conversion. Nobody likes feeling lost, so be your users guiding light (a bit like Gandalf in Lord of the Rings)


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