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Two secs sells – do you have the immediacy factor?

Give your designs the two second testImmediacy is an important concept for any piece of marketing – whether it’s a magazine advertisement, a website or a shop window. Visitors must be able to understand immediately (within two seconds) what they are looking at. Think about it – as you go through your daily life you go past shop windows, you see newspaper and magazine covers, you look at product packaging and more. All the time, your brain is able to recognise what things are based on recognisable shapes, logos or hierarchical layouts.

In order to attract the attention of passers-by, the shop window needs to say three things: 1. We are a shop. 2. This is what we sell. 3. You should come inside to see more stuff like this. A customer should be able to work all that out within a couple of seconds.

Let’s look at some examples to illustrate what I mean. Take the MaxMara shop window pictured here. You can see it’s a fashion shop for women and you can see it has some stylish dresses on sale. No confusion there. The clear message also shouts out that red is the “in” colour.

Max Mara shop window

Look at the newspaper front pages below to see how a good layout can make all the difference. With the modern day cover of The Times, even without reading anything, your eyes and your brain tell you there is one big story to read plus a few smaller ones on the side. You know where to start reading and know how the stories are differentiated.

Newspaper coversCompare that with the early 1900s cover of the New York Times and it’s a mish mash of articles, all merged into one another. No way of knowing what’s important and you are just as likely to turn the page to scan the next mish mash before you start reading.

Good magazine layouts also employ the immediacy technique. Look at the example below and you can see instantly that it is a feature about home decor.

Magazine feature

The other great thing about the magazine layout featured here is that it doesn’t comprise one picture with a page full of boring text. The article is broken up into different sections, with a clear hierarchy telling the brain which way to read through the page.

When it comes to websites, so many commit the cardinal sin of forcing their visitors to view splash intros. Why make people watch an intro to get to a site when perhaps all they want is your phone number? I could pick many websites to show immediacy, but  one I have chosen is Skin To Skin in Portugal.

Skin To Skin websiteMany businesses say what they do in the company name, so immediacy is apparent in name alone. Skin To Skin is a good example of a site where the name could make you think about something else. So when you arrive at the site, you must immediately be able to understand that they are a clothing company. This is visually apparent on the home page, with large product pictures and a “Buy online” heading right in the middle of the page. Compare this with Boodles – which makes you click through TWO intro splash pages before you see the content.

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