People are in a rush which seems to have created a fracture between content producers and their readers.
Content producers try their best to create work but a good majority of that information is skipped over by an individual because we are all becoming conditioned to read the snippets and summaries.
Tim Ash does an amazing job at explaining why readers have such trouble concentrating on content and resort to skimming (which can be found here).
A good part of it stems from the fact that:
- People look for the catchy words (meaningful keywords) in the headlines and qualify their commitment based on their response.
- Reading text from a computer (tablet or phone) is tiring due to the light it emits.
Coming from Tim’s article a (perhaps) shocking set of statistics are found with individuals.
“The Associated Press reported that in 2012, the average attention span was 8 seconds (down from 12 seconds in 2000). Just this year, Chartbeat collected data that indicated people rarely make it to the end of an article online. In fact, only 50 percent will make it to the half-way point.”
It’s often the smallest elements of a piece of content which breaks an individual’s attention span.
- Font & Size. Traditional print is often done with Serif fonts but early limitations of computer screens meant these fonts were often difficult to render and were stressful to read. Many sites switched to sans-serif fonts that are larger in size (sometimes 14 – 16px or more) which makes it very easy on the eyes and scan.
- TMI & Progressive Disclosure. There is such an abundance of information on the Web that it’s easy to become consumed by its sheer mass. In point – people feel overwhelmed to the point they can’t handle it. An option producers have taken is progressive disclosure which gives just the important information, in bite-sized chunks, when needed which keeps their attention.
If there is anything we can learn from all this is:
- Use a font and size that’s easy on the eyes
- Break up the information into bite-sized chunks
- Consider “front loading” with the most vital information in the beginning
Realize not everyone is going to read through it all. That’s okay. As long as you convey the message you are doing your job … even if they skip over 99% of the content.