Short attention spans and why design matters

It’s official, we now actually have the attention span of a goldfish – or rather, less. Smartphones, Facebook, Twitter with its 140 characters, and the constant stream of things competing for our attention have finally taken their toll, and a recent study reported in The Telegraph claimed that our attention spans are now as low as 8 seconds. That’s lower than the famously inattentive goldfish, which can apparently manage 9 seconds. For shame.

So what?

Well, that’s your marketing audience we’re talking about. Consider for a moment how you browse the web –  whether you’re just doing research or whether you’re actually in buying mode. I’m guessing your attention was being drawn by at least one other thing, you probably had a time limit you were working to anyway, and you were presented with a bunch of quite similar options. You flick through a few sites, and it doesn’t take much to make you reach for the back button. Slow to load? Gone. Don’t like the look of it? Gone. Made you think too hard? Gone. We know this to be true, but it’s easy to forget to apply it to your own website.

First impressions count

So it’s all about first impressions. With our short attention spans, you’ve got a second or two at most to convince a visitor to stick around long enough to even read your carefully crafted content. If your website fails at that, you can drive all the traffic in the world, and have the best product or service on the planet, and it won’t do you any good.

So what makes for a good website, in terms of grabbing attention?

  • Loads fast
  • Looks great
  • Makes it obvious what’s on offer
  • Doesn’t make me think

It’s as simple as that. A great looking site that serves up the desired content quickly and easily means that visitors enjoy the whole experience – and ensures that they stay long enough to actually engage with the detailed content.

The design of your website is key to visitor engagement and is one of the quickest and easiest steps that you can take in generating more business through your online presence.

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