Does Your Website Pass the Grunt Test?


As a marketer, I hear a lot of so-called “best practices” when it comes to how you should layout a website for your business.

There are all kinds of resources out there that tell you everything you have to have on your website for it to be worth anything. Often, it seems the advice being given is that flashier and more vague websites are best. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

One gentleman who shares advice on how your website should work is Don Miller.

You may have heard of him. He’s an author and entrepreneur. He’s written a ton of books, the most famous probably being Blue Like Jazz, and his newest release, Scary Close. Don also runs a company called Story Brand. They hold workshops and online courses that help people clarify their message so people engage.

One piece of advice that Don loves to use, and it is so incredibly effective that I think about this every time we build a site, is asking the question,

Does your website pass the grunt test?

Now this may sound ridiculous, and you may have just thought about grunting at your website. That's probably why people are looking at you funny ; )

The question is asking, if a proverbial caveman were to look at your website, could they “grunt” exactly what you do just by looking at the homepage?

The "caveman" can be considered anyone who lands on your website and has never heard of your business before. It's not that Don is being rude. It's the fact that the human brain is millions of years old and its natural instinct is survival mode. Meaning that anything that we don't understand very quickly in the limbic area of our brain, which controls decision making based on emotions, our brain quickly deems it a threat to our survival.

All this to say that if people aren't able to quickly understand what your website is telling them what your business does, they'll move on to something more important... Like cat videos.

Do people know exactly what your business does within in a few seconds of being on your site?

For most websites, the answer is no.


The Solution

Don offers up a way to test this without finding a caveman, which could be kind of difficult.

Here’s what you should do.


Ask an acquaintance out for coffee

Make sure that they don’t know what you, or your business, does. Then, when they ask you what you do, pull up your website on your laptop, or phone, and tell them to look at it for 4 seconds. Count to 4 in your head, then close the computer, or take the phone away. If your acquaintance can’t tell you what you do in that 4 seconds, then your website fails the grunt test.

It is simple, but incredibly effective.

You should shut the computer after 4 seconds because that is the amount of time it takes for people to decided whether to leave your website or not. So, if what you do isn’t clear as day, people will probably leave fairly quickly.


take your website to a web designer

Before you tell them what you do, show them your site. Do the grunt test again! If they, like the acquaintance, can’t tell what you do after looking at your site for 4 seconds, you need to refresh your site with clearer language and imagery.


If you have any question that your website would fail the grunt test, or you’ve proven it, send us a message here and we’ll do the grunt test for you for free (no one should ever charge for this).

Then, we’ll recommend what you could change on your site to pass the test and help your business grow.

I thank Don for sharing the grunt test with me. It is a sure fire way to help grow your business.

In fact, companies have quadrupled revenues when they have clarified their language and imagery on their websites and marketing materials.

If you need help, send us a note here