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Designing a website for an audience with a decreasing attention span


Humankind’s ability to focus is not what it used to be. Experts are still deliberating on how bad the situation really is (there are alarming studies that point to an average attention span of only eight seconds!). What does seem perfectly clear is that people of all ages are finding it increasingly difficult to sit and focus their attention on one thing without peaking at their phone or being distracted.

The average person’s decreasing attention span is going to play a big role in how you make a website. Why? Because, especially in the age of skim reading, you have less and less time to hook visitors into staying on your website and interacting with your content. From the moment they access your homepage, it’s a matter of seconds before they decide whether they stick around or move on. This is also why understanding web design statistics is so important.

Overcoming this problem is one of the greatest challenges on your path as a small business owner creating your website. But don’t worry, young Jedi. We created this guide to help you prepare your site for this day and age. Follow the steps to web that leverages short attention span to your advantage. We've also include some great visual website design inspiration examples.

Plan the flow

Put yourself in the position of your site visitors. From the moment they first see your website header to the moment they scroll to your website footer, they will go through a particular path. If you can plan their flow of browsing through your web design, you will be able to make it more efficient and satisfying. To do this well, you need to start by focusing on the ultimate goals that you want your site visitors to accomplish. If you’re an online store owner, completing purchases is a clear goal. If you run a blog, subscribing to your newsletter is an important one as well. Other significant goals include booking appointments, sharing your content on social media or filling out a contact form to request a price quote for your services. With the end goal in mind, start outlining the flow that would take site visitors from start to finish in the shortest, smoothest way. Here are a few improvements you could make:

  • Minimize the number of pages they need to visit before they can accomplish that goal.

  • Add clear Call To Actions [CTAs] to encourage direct action.

  • Remove or reduce content that seems redundant or could be distracting.

Creating a website with decreasing attention

Optimize “above the scroll”

The term “above the scroll” refers to the section of your website that is immediately visible to site visitors, before they need to scroll further down. What happens there will be the first thing that greets visitors when they first load your website, which makes it highly important. This is your opportunity to make a lasting first impression.

Your mission is to design that first-encounter section in a way that captures your visitors’ attention immediately. With so much competition available online, this needs to be a love-at-first-sight moment. The “above the scroll” section should not just be beautiful, it needs to make sense. You want that section to achieve three goals:

  • Show what your site is about.

  • Inspire visitors to read more, search for products, browse your galleries, or whatever action corresponds to your ultimate goal.

  • Lastly, the “above the scroll” section should give visitors a clear idea of how to achieve these goals when they continue to browse.

Visualize information

Large bulks of text are guaranteed to drive your visitors away. Even professionals who deal with heavy amounts of text (like authors, academics or journalists) should avoid piling up paragraph over paragraph and consider more approachable modes of presentation, particularly visualization. Visual information serves two purposes. First, it transmits information easily, and second, it really adds to your website’s aesthetics. You can visualize content in multiple forms, including introduction videos, statistical graphs and charts, before and after pictures, size and measurement illustrations, image slideshows or simple animations that explain action.

Creating a website with decreasing attention

Fight the clutter

Don’t give your site visitors opportunities to get distracted. Keep your website tidy and spacious, so they can focus on what really matters (Not to mention, embracing minimalism is a major web design trend of this year). It may seem tempting to squeeze in as much content as possible, but an overcrowded website is not just a design-fail, it will most definitely hurt your website’s performance. An important term to mention here is “whitespace,” which in web design lingo basically refers to any portion of your website that doesn’t include any content. Even if this seems counterintuitive, whitespace is good and a key facet of modern website design. Great, even! It is the “empty” spots that really call attention to the content of your site. Make sure you use whitespace generously to make your website come to life.

Make the search easy

People arrive to your website looking for something. Unfortunately, the declining attention span of the human species means they won’t have the patience to look for too long. You can assist your visitors in finding what they need before they get too frustrated and look elsewhere by using some digital tricks. Here are some great ways to do that:

  • Integrate a ‘search bar’ to allow visitors find specific keywords throughout your website (choose from a variety of search apps available on the Wix App Market).

  • For an online store, you can add product filters to help clients focus their shopping experience.

  • Display a tag cloud on your blog, so readers can immediately find the articles they are most interested in.

Work on your colors

You’d be amazed to learn how colors can influence a website’s browsing experience. In addition to giving your website a gorgeous look, the site’s color scheme plays an important role in enhancing the layout and guiding visitors through your site. Here are just a couple of ideas for what you can with colors:

  • Draw visitors’ attention to specific items by accentuating them with colors.

  • Use shades and tones of the same colors to build a content hierarchy, so visitors know where to start and where to continue.

  • Make your texts more easily readable with a good contrast between background colors and text colors.

  • Use color psychology to create an atmosphere and get your site visitors in the right mood.

Start a chat to grab their attention

When visitors browse through your website with questions and can’t find the answers, they will most likely go look elsewhere. Use the Wix Chat feature to offer immediate responses and keep them hanging longer on your page. With Wix Chat, you can even initiate the conversation yourself and ensure your visitors that you are there to assist them. You have full control on when the chat is visible to visitors, so that they don’t reach out when you are unavailable to answer immediately. The great thing is that you can operate Wix Chat directly from your phone, using Wix Mobile App, so you can communicate with site visitors even on the go.

Reduce loading speed

“Slow” is the worst thing you can say to a website owner. A slow website means less traffic, less conversions and as a result, less business. You can expect people to sit and wait while the screen is taking forever to load. Take action and reduce the site’s loading speed with these Steps:

  • Optimize images so they look great but don’t weigh your site down.

  • Divide your heavy files into separate pages, so they don’t all load together (for example, photographers can create separate gallery pages for commercial work, landscape, portraits, etc.).

  • Go easy on the use of animation. These cute little things can slow you down. For everything about using this enticing feature, check out our guide on how to add animation to your site.

  • For heavy content files like music or video, choose streaming rather than direct upload.

Test, and test some more

Once you have followed all the tips listed here, it’s time to put on the lab coat and do some testing. After all, if you want your website to overcome the attention span problem you need human subjects to experiment on. Gather feedback from friends and family and hear what people have to say about the site’s user experience. Give them tasks to perform on your site and measure how long it takes to complete them. Run your tests on people with different levels of savviness, using different types of devices and browsers. The larger the sample you collect, the more prepared you will be to make improvements.

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