Stop Blaming Short Attention Spans – It’s Your Website’s Fault

Attention Span Website

Attention spans are short these days.  At least that’s the claim I read and hear all the time. But I think it’s time we let attention spans off the hook.  Shrinking attention spans aren’t to blame for the lack of engagement on sites across the web.  If visitors don’t engage, it’s your website’s fault.

The Attention Span Misnomer

Whenever I think of attention spans, I think of Jerry Seinfeld.  After Seinfeld was done cowering in fear before dictatorial chefs and had finally given up on his reservation at the Chinese food restaurant, he had this to say in an interview:

“There is no such thing as an attention span.  There is only

the quality of what you are viewing.  This whole idea of an

attention span is, I think, a misnomer.  People have infinite

attention if you are entertaining them.”

While Seinfeld wasn’t talking about web design, his point rings true.  People will engage as long as they’re interested in what you are saying. It’s your job to keep them interested.

Keeping Your Visitors Interested

So how do we keep our website visitors engaged? While that’s a huge topic (and the subject of posts throughout this blog), here are a few key pointers with links to some other articles that can help.

Identify Your Users

Figure out who you’re targeting with your website.  It’s fine to have multiple audiences, but get specific.  Identifying your users will help you deliver content that piques their interest. It’ll also help you figure out what content to leave off of your website.  Make sure you’re prioritizing content your target audiences are going to want to see most.

Craft Compelling Content

The content you put on your website plays a huge role in keeping visitors interested in what you have to say.  Strong content can hold the attention of even a flighty visitor.  But content that is unhelpful and hard to understand will frustrate your visitors, even if they’re interested in your cause. Here are a few posts on writing strong content for your nonprofit’s website:

Think About Usability

Usability deals with making sure your visitors know how to use your website to find whatever it is they’re looking for.  Do they know what is clickable?  Do they know where a link will take them?  Can they use your navigation to find content throughout your website? Make sure you consistently consider your visitors when developing your site.  Here are a few posts all about usability:

So let’s collectively let attention spans off the hook and start focusing on developing websites that are more engaging. Have any additional tips when it comes to engaging website visitors?  Or anything you’ve seen on a website that you found particularly interesting?

Image courtesy of F. Delventhal, Flickr