The attention span of the average Internet user is apparently only eight seconds long - shorter than the attention span of a goldfish (which is nine seconds). While that may not actually be true, it is true that there is a limited period of time to catch users’ attention. There’s a huge amount of information on the Internet and users don’t have the time to read through everything. They have to decide quickly whether the website they clicked on is one that is worth their time to stay on or whether they should move on to the next one.
Above the Fold
The first place users are going to look is at the very top of your web page. An eye-catching above-the-fold summary or bulleted list of the most important content on your page can help draw their attention and tell them what the page is about. This can help a user determine quickly that your site can provide the content they are looking for. Even if users choose not to delve into the rest of the content on the page, they will still have read the most important points of your content.
Less Can Be More
When it comes to text, less can definitely be more. Too much text can feel overwhelming and may drive users to decide that it’s too long for them to read (thus tl;dr – too long; didn’t read). Homepages especially should contain only vital information, such as what your website and company are all about. Links and navigation menus can help direct users to more content. While it’s important to make sure each page has high-quality content, that doesn’t mean that the content needs to be too text-heavy.
Where possible, you can use bulleted lists to break up text. Bulleted items are also easier for users to read and skim your content. Especially if there are instructions of some kind or a list, some text is best formatted as bullet points. They’re visually easier on the eyes than a huge block of text, are easier to read and digest, and can perform the same function as images to break up text.
Use White Space
While white space on a web page may look like it’s just needing to be filled with something, whether that’s an ad, an image, or more text, it’s actually better to use it as is. Too much content on your page, especially if it’s advertising, can make your page look crowded and overwhelming. White space, also known as negative space, can be a breather for users as they read and process the content on your site. Too little white space can impede the flow of your website and make it look cluttered and disorganized. Plus, users wouldn’t know where to look next.
A Picture Is Worth a
Thousand Million Words
Images are great ways to catch users’ attention and to break up a lot of text on a web page. They can also serve to convey much of the intended content of the page, replacing some of the text. Images are also good for SEO, because not only is the alt text readable by search engines, but the image’s file name can be similarly name with keywords. When it comes to user experience, however, images go a long way towards drawing and keeping users’ attention while preventing them from feeling overwhelmed by large amounts of text at once.
Video content is increasingly popular. YouTube is now one of the biggest search engines in the world and billions of users watch its content. Videos are a great way to introduce content onto your webpage in a way that is engaging and interesting to users. Videos can be used to demonstrate a product, tell a story, share expertise, provide instructions, and more. If there is a video for users to watch, they may stay on your page longer (which in turn can improve your search rankings). Videos can also be used as part of your SEO campaign for your keywords, since not only is YouTube itself a search engine for videos, but Google does display videos in its search results as well.
P.S. – In case you can’t keep up with the young folks’ lingo (like our founder, Amanda Shaffer), TL;DR = “too long, didn’t read” according to Urban Dictionary. 😉