Optimising your website for the shortening attention span

Our human attention span is getting shorter and shorter. That’s a fact. There are many reasons why but it’s often attributed to the rise in use of mobile technology. With so much readily at our fingertips, we have grown accustomed to things being quick and easy for us when it comes to online web browsing.

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, you have around 10 to 20 seconds to capture and engage a website visitor before they leave your website. This, of course, is not a lot of time. As such, it’s imperative that your website is optimised for the human attention span to increase your chances of securing those valuable conversions.

So, knowing you have such a small window to hook people in, what can you do about it? Following are our top tips for optimising your website to suit our shortening attention span.

Ensure your website loads quickly

As we live in a world where we have immediate and easy access to information via the internet, we are accustomed to things working quickly. Your website should be no exception. A fast loading website is the first and likely most important factor in optimising your website for the human attention span. Slow loading websites will always be a deterrent. The longer your webpage takes to load, the higher the chance there is of losing a user and their potential conversion.

According to a study conducted by Forcaster Consulting, 40 percent of users will wait no longer than 3 seconds when loading before abandoning a website. That percentage increases by 10 percent for every 1.5 seconds thereafter that a website takes to load. This means that if your website is slow to load, you could be losing nearly half your traffic.

Want to learn more about optimising your website’s loading speed and find out how quickly your site should be loading? Click here for our blog on the subject.

Capture your visitor’s interest

With short attention spans, it is important to capture the interest of your visitors quickly. There is no better way to do this than by working with the ‘above the fold’ portion of your website. Above the fold in web design refers to the portion of your website that is visible without scrolling. For most website home pages, the above the fold section will feature a banner and some form of call to action for new visitors. This is what you should optimise.

A strong call to action in the above the fold on your website will help in multiple ways:

  • It will engage your visitors and create interest in your products or services
  • It can guide visitors towards a sales funnel through subsequent webpages
  • It informs visitors on what they need to do next if they are interested in what you have to offer

Without a strong call to action, you provide little guidance for your website visitors which can result in your traffic navigating away from your website.

Strong Call to Action - Attention Span Optimisation on a Website
Strong call to action design featured on Stripe.com

Prioritise the visual design of your website

Your website’s visual appearance should be interesting and appealing to your target visitor demographic. Selecting appropriate imagery, colour schemes and graphics are all important to retain your visitor’s interest in your website, thus feeding their short attention spans. It is also a good idea to avoid adding visuals just for the sake of it. Afterthought design enhancements will most likely only serve to distract visitors from the main purpose of your website. Keep the visuals and design of your website relevant to your target audience and be careful to not overdo it.

Be clear about what you do

A new website visitor should be able to determine what it is that you do or what you are offering within the first few seconds of reaching your site. If you are not clearly communicating this you are making it harder for the visitor to reach their verdict of “is this business right for me?”.

You can quickly promote your business and service offerings through your logo, slogan and call to action messaging in your above the fold section. It is also a great idea to summarise your products and services on your homepage without going into too much detail.

Keep your messaging clear and concise

With our decreasing attention spans comes a decrease in patience. You should assume your website visitors are impatient and want their questions answered as fast as possible. This is where clear and concise website messaging helps. Your website messaging should answer the following questions:

  1. What is this site about?
  2. What products are sold or what services are offered?
  3. What makes you different?
  4. What are the site visitors supposed to do next?

Take your website home page for example - these questions can be broken down into their own sections of your home page:

What is this site about? The answer to this question should come from your logo, slogan, and content above the fold.

Above the fold content - Website optimisation for attention span
Above the fold content on our home page describing what we do

What products/services offered? Summarise your products and services directly below the fold. Keep it simple with 3-5 summaries.

Product and service offering summaries - Clear website messaging
Product and service offering summaries

What makes you different? Answer this question by providing a small description about your business on your home page. If you have more to write, link through to your ‘About us’ page instead of overdoing the content on the home page.

Website point of difference - Attention span optimisation
Our point of difference

What are the site visitors supposed to do next? Your call to actions spread throughout your page answer this question. If you want your visitors to contact you, add “contact us” messaging. If you want product sales, include “buy now” buttons. Be explicit with your direction and instructions to avoid confusion.

Website attention span optimisation - Call to action
A call to action to guide visitors on the next step to take

Don’t neglect your mobile experience

Mobile devices play a huge role today in web consumption. In 2018, 52.2 percent of all website traffic worldwide came from mobile devices, up from 50.3 percent in the previous year. That’s over 2.18 billion people who are using their mobile phones regularly to browse the web. If your website is neglecting the mobile experience then chances are you are missing out on potential conversions. Even Google uses a poor mobile experience as an SEO ranking factor and penalises websites that aren’t optimised for devices.

It is important to review your website on a mobile device to identify easily fixed issues. Your website should be as fluid and easy to navigate on a mobile phone as if it is on a desktop computer. If you are finding that you are having problems, so will your visitors.

Google allows you to do a free mobile-friendly test of your website which is often a handy starting point if you are considering optimising the mobile version of your website.

If you feel that your website is not grabbing the attention of your visitors, download our free eBook below to find out how your website can make a good first impression.

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CSQD (est. 2005) is a Gold Coast graphic design studio staffed with people who live and breathe outstanding design. We bring our hearts as well as our heads to your project, we want to surprise and delight you with artful creations that clearly transmit your branding message. Don’t mistake our modest size for modesty. We’re happy to tell anyone that we punch well above our weight when it comes to our talent, energy and technology.