How to do the 20-Second Gut Test to Get Your Website Branding Off to a Great Start 101

Let’s face it. Your website is your calling card online. It can also be your online store, revenue generator, audience builder, lead generator and so much more. When it comes time to give yourself a new look online, where do you start? If you want to create a visual brand that tells your story, there are a few things you can do right now before you even hire developers. What am I talking about? The 20-second Gut Test of course. This is such a great exercise to do first, before the logo, the branding, the style guide, the development — basically before you spend your investment.

What is the 20-second gut test anyway?

In my line of work, I get to see and work on a lot of websites. Some are incredible and really speak to their customers, draw you in, and have amazing useful content. Some are flashy and false and speak to no one. In today’s crowded marketplace, it can be tempting to mimic a popular site, or even worse, just get something (anything) up so you can say you’re online. Yikes!

I would strongly advise against hastily throwing up a website without doing any kind of research or gut test first. Often in branding, our first instincts, our gut will be right all along. That’s why I love the 20-second gut test from Help Spot Design Academy so much. It really simplifies the entire process from the get-go and get’s you working towards your end goal.

How to start your 20-second website gut test.

While the test itself only takes a few seconds, the prep work is going to take a little longer. First, dig into some competitor websites in your industry. Make a list of about 10 sites or so that stand out. You don’t have to evaluate them on any level yet, just make the list. Choose the most popular ones, or just 10 sites that stand out for whatever reason. You aren’t evaluating anything yet, you are just listing them.

Now, I recommend taking another step forward too.

Make a list of 10 sites that you love (in your industry or not).

I think a valuable second step for this gut test is going to be looking at websites that you already love, use, admire — for whatever reason and giving them a gut test too. This can be a great exercise to do at any time in your online journey from time to time as well. Are your visitors not converting as much as you’d like? Has your growth stalled? Looking to make improvements on your website, but don’t know where to start?

This gut check can help you clarify all of those issues.

Too many times those of us who spend our lives online get bogged down the rabbit hole of Google. We can spend countless hours meandering among the world wide web that we forget to take a step back and listen to our gut. There is a reason we react ‘strongly’ to something, even online.

Now, the 20-second gut test begins…

I only recently discovered this little online gem and I have already started using it in my client processes to help people get mental focus on what really matters to them online.

You’re going to need your lists.

Next, you are going to fill out the gut test here: 20-second website gut test scoresheet

The instructions are simple:

What is your gut reaction to each website? In other words, if each site was yours (swapping in your content, logo, branding, etc), how happy would you be with it? Rank each site on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being extremely negative and 5 being extremely positive.” 

Rank each site from 1 -5, with 5 being a really great first ‘gut’ reaction to a website.

Now, comes the hard part.

Evaluating your gut. Moving forward with design.

Now, tally up your scores. What sites stood out to you as extremely positive? Take a deeper dive into the top 2 sites that you really loved. What is it about these sites that drove your fancy? Is it the color scheme? The user design? The content? Write these thoughts down. You’ll need them for the next phase of website development.

What sites were really low on your list? What made them stand out in a negative way?

How would you feel if this was your online presence today?

Now, do a final gut check on your own site if you have one. Does it make it make you happy? Are there things to improve? Does your branding really reflect your company vision?

This is just a place to start. Of course, there will be a time when you want to get something in development, but keep coming back to this gut check. It can save you countless hours by going down a path that just doesn’t jive.

There are lots of tools to help you get online. If you want to get up and running fast, we always recommend Clickfunnels (you can read our full Clickfunnels review here). It can really help you propel your business and you don’t technically even need a website to start promoting things.

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As Director of Content Strategy, Amy spends her time whipping up ideas to inspire young entrepreneurs to change the world and make money while doing it. With over 20 years of writing and entrepreneurial experience, Amy knows great content. Download a free copy of the magazine by clicking here.

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