Does your website have ‘The Curse of Knowledge’?
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When you’re a service-based business owner, you’re probably an expert at what you do. Even if you don’t introduce yourself as “an expert”, you’re definitely specialised and have a deep understanding of what you do to help people.

When you’re very close to a subject, you have a deep knowledge or understanding of it. It can be hard to imagine NOT having that deep knowledge or understanding.


When you create communications (like website text or social media posts, even paid ads) they won’t make sense to the reader, because they don’t have the same knowledge or understanding of the subject. This is the Curse of Knowledge.

“The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand.” 


If you have a site for your service based business and it’s not bringing you new leads, or if you’re getting ready to launch a new site, here’s a quick exercise to make sure you’re making sense to your potential leads and clients.

 The 5:5:3 website survey

  • Find 5 strangers
  • Ask them to spend 5 minutes on your site
  • Ask then to answer 3 questions 

Find 5 strangers

Ask 5 people to visit your site. Don’t ask family and friends, they probably already know what you do, because they know you. We’re looking for unbiased feedback.

Find 5 people who have never heard of you. But not just ANY people, we’re looking for people who could be clients. People who are, or are similar to your ideal client… basically someone who might need your service is likely to pay for it.

Something you can try is to ask in a Facebook group where people like your ideal client hang out. Post asking for some feedback on your site. You can offer them a freebie or something to say thanks as an incentive if you like.

Why 5 people?

5 is enough to see patterns, but not too much to get bogged down and waste time. 

Ask them to spend 5 minutes on your site

Now that you have your 5 strangers. Ask them to spend 5 minutes on your site. Have a look around. Just ask them to visit it and spend 5 minutes.

Why 5 minutes?

We want to know about a site visitor’s first impression. What they understand without trying too hard. This is why we only ask the questions AFTER they look around.

Ask them to answer 3 questions

If you ask the questions BEFORE they visit your site, they’ll be looking for the answers, rather than visiting the site with an open mind.

You can ask them these questions live on a call or by creating a quick survey (I like for simple surveys)

Your questions:

  1. What service do I offer?
  2. Was there any information missing or hard to find?
  3. Was it easy and obvious how to contact me?

What to do with this info’

  1. If all 5 surveys come back with a clear answer to question 1, brilliant!!! But if they come back with a vague answer, or they weren’t sure, you might need to look at how you present your services. If people don’t get it, they won’t buy it!
  2. If there was information missing or hard to find, consider adding that information, or moving it to a more visible part of your site. 
  3. And if it was unclear how to contact you, please work on that right away. Because if potential clients can’t get in touch with you, you’re missing out on opportunities every, single, day!!

Take what you learn from the survey and apply it to your site. When people understand what you do, they’re more likely to become paying clients! 

Beware the Curse of Knowledge
(OooOoooooOooOOOo, that was supposed to be a Scooby Doo-like spooky noise. Did it work?)

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