The huge amount of information the web has to offer, is shortening people's attention span.
Due to the massive amount of information, technology that serves the purpose to provide all the data, is intimidating our eyes, ears and brains. As a result, "humans have a shorter attention span than a goldfish".
Attention span is the amount of time needed to concentrate on a single task, before becoming distracted.
Because the internet has too much to offer, humans have developed a shrinking attention span in order to digest as much information as possible during the smallest amount of time, and also due to the overwhelming amount of distractions that made our brain unable to focus for a longer period of time than we previously can.
Detailing it deeper, attention is a result of a series of reaction inside a brain due to sensory stimuli.
First of all, a stimulus (for example, an object picked up by the eyes) makes its way to the cortex of the brain, which is said to be at the center of managing stimuli and attention. The brain has to disengage from whatever it’s focusing on now, move to look at the new stimuli, engage that new stimuli and raise a sense of alertness to that new stimuli.
To stay focus, the brain needs to pay attention to one stimulus while neglecting other responses by ignoring other stimuli.
This is important because stimuli don't only come from our eyes.
With the many sense humans have, our brain need to process everything it can at any given time. This is the power of multitasking. So let's say that you're reading an interesting article on the web, a vibrating smartphone inside your pocket will certainly change your brain's reaction, even if it's for some microseconds.
And if you fail to that stimulus of your skin, your attention is deliberately altered, and your focus have shifted from reading an article to reaching out your smartphone.
While most of stimuli can be processed by our brains involuntarily, whether to pick up you smartphone or not, comes from your consciousness. So your brain has can handle pretty much everything thrown at it, but in many cases, it's still up to the human to whether keep the focus on the previous object or task, or shift that attention to the new stimuli.
The Six Stimuli
On the internet where almost everyone is a stranger, everyone is busy.
As a matter of fact, most of us are too busy to even finish reading one article. That is the fact that comes with the internet and its massive amount of information.
People use search engines to seek knowledge and find answers; they scout and scroll social media feeds to satisfy the hunger for updates and information; they browse forums, bulletin boards and Q&A websites to pinpoint solutions.
But unfortunately, for many publishers and content writers on the web. there are experiencing a decreasing amount of time willing to be spent by consumers to consume one content before jumping to another content. Attention spans are shorter and it is very difficult to not only catch someone’s attention and not only keep it for a bit, but to actually influence it.
There are already too many noises wandering around the web, and you have only a few seconds to make someone to remember you.
So, how to you stand out among the crowd and get heard?
Human brain cannot be compared to animal brains, let alone a goldfish. In some cases, modern technologies and their ability to provide information in many ways, has given us the power to digest information more quickly, enable humans to increase this attention span, not shrinking it.
This is where you need to understand this human biology so you know how to give your content a significant "kick" so attention of visitors will shift form the previous thing they do, to you.
Not that ordinary ways to catch attention on the web have become obsolete, but it's the need to leverage the six stimuli to shift people's focus and keep that attention.
- Self-centered: The brain don't really put that much attention (making certain stimuli a priority) if they don't concern survival and well-being. This is reflexes, and on the web, businesses can use trigger this by showing up popup that is compelling, for example, or showing notifications about what people care the most, suddenly but at the right time.
- Contrast: This is to attract the attention for quick response and safe decisions. Without contrast, the brain enters a state of confusion, which ultimately results in delaying decision. This is why call-to-action buttons should be distinguishable and stand out.
- Tangible: Human brain processes everything, but it won't prioritize things that aren't flexible, integrated or scalable without effort and doubt. This is where businesses on the web need to be familiarize themselves to the audience, be friendly and can be recognized quickly. What can be tangible here are those that are certain.
- Beginning & End: Most of us tend to remember only the start and the end, but forget the middle. This short attention span has huge implications on how to construct and deliver powerful messages. Placing the most important content at the beginning is a must, and repeating it at the end should amplify the message's intention.
- Visual: Visual processing that enters the human ‘Reptilian Brain’ can lead to very fast and effective connection to the true decision-maker. This is why websites, apps and everything else that hunger for attention,
need to be appealing using colors, shapes and movements.
- Emotion: Humans can be triggered by emotions. A great combination of design elements and content creation will create chemical reactions that directly impact the way people memorize and act.