Does your website pass the grunt test?

website pass the grunt test

How to make your website pass the grunt test

If you showed your website homepage to a caveman, would the caveman grunt in contentedness that they’d found exactly what they’re looking for?

‘The grunt test’ is a phrase that was coined by Donald Miller, CEO of American Marketing company StoryBrand, though the concept behind the ‘grunt test’ has existed for years. If your website fails the grunt test, then your website could be losing you both revenue and customers. Here’s why.

Humans notoriously have short attention spans – around 8 seconds! Humans like it when things are quick and easy to understand. This applies to your website’s homepage.

When we’re browsing the internet looking for something, we have a process in which we find the think we are looking for. Let’s use an example. Say we’re looking for a bar of soap. Typically, we have something more specific in mind, but this example will do for now.

Anyway, you may already have some soap brands in mind, but you want to find something new. So, you hop onto Google, and you search ‘bar of soap’. You will now proceed to click on the links that interest you most. Probably four or five links, because you want some variety. Maybe some adverts, maybe some search results. Whatever takes your fancy. From there, you will make a series of decisions as to whether you have found what you are looking for.

Then you will make a bunch of decisions as to whether you like a website or not, based on a range of factors. This might be a conscious decision, but often it’s subconscious. If you are unsatisfied with what you see, you close the webpage and move on to the next website. This decision-making process takes less than 8 seconds.

Because our attention spans are so short, the average web user will only spend 8 seconds on a website. In that time, they’re trying to determine whether the website has what they need or not. For example, if you click on a website and it is a website that sells LIQUID soap, you might be unsatisfied simply because you are looking for a BAR of soap.

We are, without knowing it, applying the grunt test to almost every website we visit.

So, if you want your target audience to spend more than 8 seconds on your website, your homepage needs to pass the grunt test. That begs the question…

What is the grunt test?

By making sure your website satisfies the grunt test, you’re going to be keeping your website visitors interested for longer than 8 seconds. Hopefully this will result in more sales, and more revenue.

The grunt test is 3 questions. Afterall, we’re dealing with cavemen here.

1) What does your business offer?

2) How will it make your customer’s life better?

3) What do your customers need to do to buy it?

Seems simple right? Well, a lot of websites get it either partially or completely wrong. Why?

How to pass the grunt test

In order to pass the grunt test, your website will need to satisfy those 3 questions listed above. Let’s take a look at each question individually, and elaborate.

1) What does your business offer?

Your business offers something for a reason. What is that reason? Simply put, it’s because you’re providing a solution to people’s problems. You’re a soap company because people’s hands are dirty, and soap makes them smell nice. You’re an accountant because maths is hard and boring. You run a restaurant because people want nice food but they don’t want to cook.

Miller says that clarity sells. Not cute, clever, interesting or funny. Clarity. On your homepage, your messaging should be simple and clear. No jargon. No long sentences and paragraphs.

If you’re selling something, say that. What is the product or service that you are providing. Summarise it in a very simple sentence. For example, “Soap bars that leave your hands soft and scented”.

2) How will it make your customer’s life better?

This one is crucial. Your website should be customer centric. At the end of the day, whatever you’re selling should make your customer’s life better.

At this point, you might want to list the dozens of ways your product makes people’s lives better. However, you should refrain from doing so. Choose a handful of the most important benefits. Cost, ease and effectiveness are the generic ones that spring to mind. However, the benefits will need to be tailored to your business.

Donald Miller suggests these examples.

“Injury lawyers committed to helping you get your life back.”

“Great managers aren’t born, they’re trained. See how we do it.”

“Surprise and delight your guests with handcrafted desserts.”

In all examples, the message is concise, and the value of the product or service is made abundantly clear.

3) What do your customers need to do to buy it?

You need to prompt your website visitors to take action with a Call To Action (CTA).

If you’re selling something, include a ‘buy now’ button near the top of the page. If you want your web visitor to download an ebook, include a button that says, ‘download your ebook’. If you want your web visitor to make an enquiry, include a button that says, ‘make an enquiry’. It’s that simple.

A lot of companies weaken their call to action by using confusing and unclear language. They use phrases such as ‘start your journey here’ or ‘take a breath of fresh air’. Even ‘learn more’ is quite weak. Companies think a wishy-washy call to action looks good because it matches their branding and messaging. However, there are a couple of important benefits to including a strong and clear call to action.

By being up front and direct with your call to action, you’re establishing transparency and a business relationship. You’re making it clear that you are selling something, and that your customer can buy it from you. This may sound counterproductive, but it actually helps establish trust between you and your potential customer. You’re making your intentions clear.

It’s also important to include a direct call to action because some customers aren’t looking to ‘find out more’ or read all about your story. They just want to buy from you. If they like the look of your website, they want to click a button that will take them to where they want to be. Don’t make the process of buying from your website difficult. This will put off customers that are willing and ready to spend their money on you.


To recap, your website needs to have a clear value proposition for your customer. You need to tell your customer what it is that you offer, and how will it make your customers life better. You also need to tell your customer how they can get it. Are they buying it from you? Do they need to make an enquiry or book an appointment? Make it clear and obvious.

There are other factors that are important for keeping your website visitors engaged and interested. You might want to consider your pages loading time, for example. If humans have an attention span of 8 seconds, you don’t want your potential customer to spend 4 seconds waiting for your website to load. If your website has a slow response rate, the visitors to your website will be frustrated and less likely to buy from you.

Good imagery is important too. Are you using stock images? If you are, you could be undermining your business’s authenticity. Invest in some good photography. It will make a world of difference and will allow you to inject brand personality onto your website. This is really important for building trust with your customers.

We hope you’ve found this insight useful.  Spend a bit of time looking at your homepage and applying the grunt test to it. Even better, show your website to someone for 8 seconds. After 8 seconds, quiz them. Can they tell you what the website offers, how it will make their life better, and what they need to do to buy from you? If they can’t, your website has failed the grunt test. If they can, congratulations!

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