Article: Optimizing your website for short attention spans: six tips, by Patricio Robles

(Link to original article HERE)

Your company has invested a lot of time in building what you think is a great website. It’s not only pretty, it’s chock full of all the information about your products and services.

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Then reality sets in: attention spans are short and as great as your website is on paper, it just doesn’t hold attention long enough to convey all of the important information those customers and potential customers need to make the decisions that will boost your bottom line.

What can you do? Here are six ways to optimize your website for short attention spans.

1. Chunk content

Depending on what your company is selling, it may be all but impossible to avoid longer-than-desirable content. That, however, doesn’t mean that it has to look longer-than-desirable. From splitting up pages with lots of content across multiple pages using pagination to tweaking your information architecture so that you have fewer intimidatingly-long pages, it’s often not all that difficult to trick your impatient potential customers into believing that you’re requiring them to read less than you really are.

2. Make skimming easy

In an ideal world, every potential customer would invest ample time in perusing your company’s website. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world and your assumption should be that your potential customers are far more likely to skim your website than study it.

With this in mind, making sure your website is TL;DR-friendly is crucial. Fortunately, this doesn’t always require a complete overhaul of your content. Thoughtful formatting of text and application of appropriate typography, for instance, can go a long way towards ensure that the most important parts of otherwise boring-looking copy stand out and are actually read by potential customers.

3. Use analytics to identify the most boring parts of your website

Dealing with short attention spans isn’t always easy, and it can be even more difficult if you aren’t paying attention to your analytics. Although it’s important not to be overly aggressive in jumping to conclusions when looking at analytics trends, they can provide helpful clues about what content is working and what content isn’t. What pages are most popular? Are there pages that consistently drive website exits? If you can’t answer questions like these, you’re not using analytics to your advantage.

4. Polish your copy

Good copy can mean the difference between capturing attention and closing a sale, or losing attention and missing an opportunity. When it comes to polishing copy, there are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • Just because you’re using a copywriter doesn’t mean your copy is engaging. A professional copywriter can be a wise investment, but don’t assume that copy produced by a copywriter is effective copy that won’t need to be polished and revisited from time to time.
  • In many cases, it’s possible to say more with less. Far too often, companies believe that verbose copy is necessarily clear copy. It isn’t.
  • Storytelling works. Whether you’re selling a product or service to consumers or businesses, if you’re just providing facts and leaving potential customers to create their own excitement, chances are your copy is going to deliver less optimal results than if you craft a compelling narrative of your own.

5. Don’t forget the visuals

Humans are visual creatures and one of the best ways to deal with short attention spans is to give your potential customers something interesting to look at. This isn’t an excuse to use cheesy stock photography — that’s almost always a really bad idea — but high-quality product photography, screenshots, charts, infographics and videos can be very effective in capturing attention.

6. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes

When designing and building websites, far too many companies think about their needs and ignore the needs of customers and potential customers. While it’s tempting to assume that stakeholders want in-depth information about your products and services, the devil is in the details and how this information is organized and presented makes all the difference. Produce pages that are truly useful in the eyes of customers and potential customers and you stand a much better chance of being rewarded with their attention.

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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