Fight Short Attention Span with Smart Content and Design Strategy

When someone tells you that you have a shorter attention span than a goldfish, it’s usually just a hyperbole. However, with so much content and distractions around us, the statement now doesn’t sound exaggerated at all. In fact, according to a 2015 study conducted by Microsoft, the average human attention span is fast declining: from 12 seconds in the year 2000, we now have an eight-second attention span–which is actually one second shorter than that of a goldfish.


As creative professionals, it is our job to create content that would catch attention and hook the audience to stay until the end. And to do so, the challenge is to create content that is attractive and engaging enough to stand out and leave a great and lasting impression within a short period of time.


In order to fight short attention span, a smart content and design strategy should be in order. May the content be written, a design, a video, or a website’s interface or experience as a whole, there are various techniques to make the audience stop and interact with the content.


Quick and Smooth

According to Nielsen Norman Group, an evidence-based user experience research provider, users do not stay on web pages for very long. An average page visit only lasts a little less than a minute and this could even be lesser if the page suddenly loads sluggishly; if it takes a while for the page visitor to get to the information they need; or if the content or the navigation within the page is not user-friendly.


All the elements in the website should convey speed. Users shouldn’t be made to feel like they have to wait for information, especially that it’s so easy to head towards the next site where the information is readily available and easily accessible.


To ensure that a page loads quickly and presents the content in a way that is easier to digest, get rid of unnecessary features that could slow down and obstruct user experience, such as unoptimized images and animations that take forever to load. Keep in mind that it only takes three seconds of delay for page visitors to abandon the page if things don’t work right.


Design with motion in mind. Employ visual techniques that can be applied both to still design, video, or animation. Movement is applied when in need for information to move faster. It’s more engaging this way.


Consider space when designing. The page design should utilize space enough so that the eye moves from element to element more quickly.


The Good Ol’ Inverted Pyramid

inverted pyramid in content writing

Inverted_pyramid.jpg: The Air Force Departmental Publishing Office (AFDPO) // Public Domain

We’ve learned about the inverted pyramid technique in our writing class back in school. It guides us how content should be prioritized and structured. And until now this technique is effective not only on text but also on design. The most important information or element should always be found at the top or in the forefront and let it trickle down from the most to least important information. There six questions that help identify important information:

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. When?
  4. Where?
  5. Why?
  6. How?

The answers to these questions should be directed to from the respective call-to-action.


Progress and Notification

A way to promote interaction and to make the most out of design is through functional animation and design. As much as people don’t like to wait, they also want to keep updated on the status or progress of what they’re getting into. Functional animation and design such as progress bars, icons, and animated loading bars fulfill the users’ sense of accomplishment. They also make waiting more bearable. Utilize progress bars or play with notifications to show or update users how close a project is to completion. Progress indicators play an important role even when it’s the users who are providing the information. Imagine how you check how much longer a download will take. It’s essentially the same thought; there’s a need to know how much longer the process will take.


Within Reach

It’s easier to get users to interact with and access information when the target or call-to-action is closer and easy to touch. Improve the design by making slightly oversized targets that are impossible to be missed, group similar targets and elements to minimize or eliminate the need to scroll and move all over the page when completing actions, and (this applies mostly to mobile devices) make sure things are easy to reach and is just a thumb’s length away.


Limited Options

Sometimes having a lot of options is neither useful nor necessary. Too many options can slow down decision-making and thought process and makes the design feel sluggish (although not always). A few choices let users feel still in control but work to move them down the right path. This can be applied to a streamlined navigation, limit pages to only the vital ones, and effective internal linking and search option.



Design with consistency to hook users and use the same or similar fonts, colors, and styles all throughout the website. Users move through the design effectively and easier when there’s predictability to the design. Consistency improves usability and speed.


Usability and Legibility

Even without designing for accessibility, the text should be readable, without any indecipherable and any complicated typeface. You can work with giant attention grabbing catchphrases but don’t go overboard. Readability also helps users scan through the page for relevant keywords and bits of information. Properly laid out content allows the user to pick up something and get what they need without wasting time. Functional design and legible content make for an ultimately usable website.



Another way to get viewers engaged is to make the content interactive. The content may be interesting and creative enough to get them engrossed, but there will always be an uneasy feeling of not wanting to stare idly at a page and that desire of wanting to have something to do. Make sure the web page offers something for the users to interact with. Make the design interactive with various calls to action, games, fun facts, and links. Relevant animation, icons, and interactive infographics also do wonders. It is also ideal to inject humor and entertainment (if applicable) into the content to break the monotony.


The ultimate goal of designers, copywriters, web developers, and animators, as well as business and website owners, is to be able to leave an impression and recall to their target audience. If you are looking to outsource creative tasks such as graphic design, creative writing, and multimedia and animation, or if you’re looking for a creative outsourcing partner to develop your branding and website, contact MicroCreatives. We are a team of designers, copywriters, web developers, and motion graphic artists who value the sense of collaboration in order to maintain consistency and to provide our clients the best of our combined efforts for a smart content and design strategy.


Reference: design shack