Designing for Short Attention Spans.

By | August 29, 2018


There’s a higher chance of Siri understanding what you say the first time around than you reading to the end of this article. The average human’s attention span has lowered to 8 seconds, down from 12, which is even lower than a goldfish. Although, our ability to multi-task has improved which is something a goldfish can’t do!

The development of technology, the internet, and social media in our daily lives has both changed our lifestyles and had an impact on our ability to focus for any amount of time. Information is easily available to us. A quick google search and we can find out almost anything. So why would anyone waste their time trying to find what they are looking for on your website?

In 2018, being able to access information quickly, that’s to the point, is what’s expected on any website. Even Twitter has a limit on their character count. No one wants to read your daily rant, that’s what Facebooks for! Checking and updating social media is a main part of our everyday lives. It has become a routine or considered as the norm to millennials, who have grown up during the technological boom. TV adverts used to be informative, but now they aim to be entertaining, to the point, in order to keep our attention. Our short attention spans can only cope with regular bursts of high attention, we can thank social media for that!

The workspace on your website should be designed and laid out like your workspace in real life. Our thoughts reflect our workspace around us. If your workspace is decluttered and organised, your thoughts will be a lot clearer and the ability to focus will be a lot easier. The user experience and User Interface design on your website should be designed with this theory in mind. A decluttered and organised website with a defined structure, just like your office or workspace environment, will be a lot easier for your users to navigate and find what they’re looking for. The best, most effective websites are modern with a minimal User Interface design. Users can easily navigate around the site without getting confused or losing interest. 

Any website that wants to gain the interest of the modern day 8-second attention span, or at least turn a millennial’s head for a few seconds, will need to consider a few key factors of web design. Continue reading to find out more.

Website Loading Time + Progress

As a user or customer, we expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less. Think about the number of times you have left a webpage that didn’t load quick enough. What could have been designed differently to make you stay?

Showing progress of a page, task or content loading on your website will grab a users attention and give them a reason to wait. An animated loading bar, buffer or visual distraction will keep a user interested, reduces their anxiety and gives them something to focus on while they wait. Effective loading times and progress bars on your website will gain the users’ attention, improving customer satisfaction and result in higher conversion rates. 


Most users seldom read beyond the first sentence or paragraph of a webpage. As only 28% of the text on the whole page gets read, your content should be short, to the point with subject headers and choppy paragraphs. No one has the time to read long, in-depth paragraphs about your products or services. Users want to find information as easy and quickly possible or they will go elsewhere. Using a hierarchy or subheadings can help break up content or text, making it easier for the users to follow.

Including a variety of visual content, as well as text, will make your website more interesting and visually appealing. Our brain processes visual content easier than text. This can include photographs, icons, video or animations. Using visuals that are informative will encourage users to engage with the webpage for longer. Web pages containing video content will grab users’ attention for twice as long as normal. Using visuals on your website is the best way to deliver information to your users and gain their attention while online.

Page Layout and Design

The space on your website should be used to your advantage. It’s just like the space in your office. It should be kept clean and tidy and easy to move around at all times.

The white space on your web pages helps the user’s eye move from element to element and navigate around the site, just like in your workspace. White space can be used to break up large sections of content and emphasise important elements on your site. Using white space effectively can increase the users’ attention and understanding of your website by 20%. Having a consistent design running through your website is the easiest way to hold the users’ attention. Using the same colours, styles, fonts and layouts on each page will make the user interested and more likely to engage with your site.

The vast development of technology and social media over the past 15 years has lowered our attention spans and ability to concentrate. Design needs to accommodate short attention spans online by creating websites that users will find engaging. By following these steps your website will grab the attention of users, hopefully for much longer than 8 seconds!