Recent research shows that the average attention span of an internet user is 8 seconds. This is why designing for users short attention spans is crucial. Failure to do this, will ensure users won’t stick around a particular website long enough to accomplish a given task, whether it is buying something or simply reading articles. So, what can web designers do about this? There are several ways you can optimize a website to appeal to users with a short attention span.
1. Fast Loading Speed
First and foremost, ensure that the website loads as fast as possible. In this situation, time is critical. The longer it takes for a website to load, the more the user becomes impatient. You can be sure that they won’t stick around to wait for it to fully load.
One of the ways to improve website speed is by removing any unnecessary features. This includes images, text, links and graphics that serve no purpose on the that particular page. Strive to make things as simple as possible. The aim is to pack the website with basic tasks which won’t increase the loading time.
After removing unnecessary features, cater for the loading of the remaining ones. You can use lazy loading or background uploading. For lazy loading, the entire page doesn’t load at once. Features are loaded only when the user scrolls to them. As for the background uploading, images or videos load slowly in the background and seem to load instantly when the user carries out an action on them.
Remember to test the website’s speed and performance using tools of your choice.
2. Make Elements Easy To Access
Ensure that the user can access the entire webpage with ease. To do this, start by grouping all similar elements together. This will make it easier to find a particular element without having to move back and forth on the website.
Next, have all buttons, links and calls-to-action visible. This can be done by making them larger in size or making them appear larger using contrasting colours. As a result, this will make it easier for users to locate them and carry out the necessary action.
Finally, make all the important features easy to reach. This especially applies to mobile phone users who have a very short attention span. The important elements should be within a thumb’s reach on either small or large mobile devices. This ease of access will definitely make users stick around a while longer.
3. Limit The Options
According to Hick’s Law, users are able to make more sound decisions when presented with fewer options. Having many options causes instant mental discomfort and makes users leave the website. In case they stick around, they end up spending more time trying to make a decision which reduces the overall time they spend on the website.
To avoid this, present the user with two options whenever possible. Having to choose between this or that is something that the user will appreciate since it eliminates the burden of decision making. To accomplish this, only provide the options that you deem relevant for that particular webpage. As a result, you’ll have the power to direct users in the direction you want them to while giving them the illusion that they’re still in control.
Of course this is not always possible for all types of websites. Some contain a lot of content hence limiting navigation to two options is impossible. In this case, you can still display two options and hide the rest in a menu button or icon or display a full menu at the footer. If the user needs to access more locations on the website they can simply click on the menu icon or scroll down to the footer.
If this doesn’t work for you, you can still show more than two menu options or buttons as long as the choices don’t overwhelm the user.
4. Use Visual Context
One effective method for designing for users short attention spans is by using visual context. This can be in form charts, info-graphics or even progress bars. Users find visual context to be more appealing and truthful. The presence of a couple of this on a website make the user more likely to stick around and read more.
When it comes to charts and graphs, use one that is simple and easy to understand. Whether it’s a Venn diagram, pie chart, bar graph or line graph, the user should be able to interpret it at first glance. It should contain a statistical summary of a key point in the content.
If you’re not in a position to use charts or graphs, inforgraphics can be used. The good thing about them is that they can be used to summarize any kind of content. Although an inforgraphic is just a simple static image, users are more likely to soak in what they read on it and even share it widely on social media.
For websites that require users to carry out a series of actions like filling in profile details, having progress bars is very useful. This allows users to see how far they’ve reached and how far they have to go. Sites like LinkedIn use progress bars to indicate the completeness of a profile.
5. Engage Users
Users are bound to stick around longer if they find a website engaging. One of the ways to keep users engaged is by using call-to-action more than once. Place this at different points but it shouldn’t be too much. Ensure that the interface is clutter free and users are able to instantly locate important features.
Introduce a section with something fun for the user to do. It could be a game or quiz that sparks the users curiosity. You can also add a segment with a fun fact just to grab the user’s attention. You’d be surprised by the number of users who’ll stay on a page simply to read a fun fact or play a simple game.
If you’re daring enough, try visual storytelling and make use of parallax. Users will be fascinated and will follow the story as it unfolds thus making them spend a longer period of time on the website.
Figure out the best way to keep the website users engaged. The bottom line is, use something that sparks the user’s curiosity and makes them stick around longer.
Applying this tips on one webpage won’t serve any good. You have to be consistent throughout the website. This way, whenever a user moves to another page, they’ll still be interested in going through the content.
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