Web Design for Short Attention Sp–

These days, people only read the headline. Heck, they might only scan the logo.

How are you expected to introduce a web-based service in the age of super-short attention spans?

Whatever your site or app’s mission, less is more (particularly in matters of presenting content). UX and UI design today is all about editing, finding the simplest means to communicate ideas and guide a user’s interaction. The word of the day is: ‘SHORTCUTS.

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The right comparison can make a complicated concept easy. Remember when Apple told people to “swipe, like turning a page?”

It all comes down to reducing cognitive load. New site visitors want to navigate through your site as if on instinct. This isn’t even an unrealistic expectation. We’ve all been trained by the UI of countless other sites. Most people are really, really good at looking at websites. Consciously or not, they’re also very good at judging a site’s UI. We don’t always have to cave into the latest trends, but it’s unwise to outright ignore new or evolving design standards.

One simple design step is to provide visitors with some simple visual cues along their way. This can be the careful selection of (just a few!) choice lines of copy, or pictures of your service that distinguish your brand and offerings. As a bonus, these visual cues teach users to recognize your site layout. Keep it simple. One or two takeaways per site visitor is all you can ask for. Let this be your goal. Give visitors too much at once and they’ll feel attacked and will likely ignore the whole barrage.

Bad experiences stick with us. Most first impressions are formed visually (certainly with a web-based service). The good news for new business is that today, more than ever, good UXD > brand loyalty. In the web space, we’re now all trained to know that other options are just a click away.

If it isn’t easy for visitors to accomplish a desired goal, and your business model is dependent on repeat use, you have a major UXD problem. Don’t design processes that require folks to remember things from earlier in the process. Imagine having ordered from Amazon already and then struggling through the process the next time you wanted to order something… not good.

Make a point to provide your repeat visitors with some shortcuts to–

DID YOU SAY: “SHORTCUTS?!”

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Sigh…