‘Practical Techie:’ The quest for a potent message

Written by  //  July 16, 2013  //  Biz Views  //  No comments

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Author Rafael Matos is professor of multimedia at a private university and director of the Caribbean Multimedia Center, a nonprofit media lab focusing on closing the digital divide. Questions should be sent to cccrafael@gmail.com.

Author Rafael Matos is professor of multimedia at a private university and director of the Caribbean Multimedia Center, a nonprofit media lab focusing on closing the digital divide. Questions should be sent to cccrafael@gmail.com.

Let’s be frank about it.  A good business website requires a bit of malicious intent.

Hold it. Don’t jump the gun. I mean catty intent in a creative way. Using age-old rascal tricks for the crucial purpose of grasping a visitor’s uninterrupted attention.

One such playful way of website building is to configure your marketing content so that it conforms well to human attention span parameters.

Woof! The statement sounds terribly technical.

Not so. Let’s break it down into practical numbers. Digital numbers, that is.

Hard science research indicates that the human mind has the attention capacity of some 115 bits of data per second. For the still uninitiated in cybernetics, a bit is a basic unit of digital information. It takes 720 bits to make a typical line of text.  We need around 32,000 for a full page of text. Even more for graphics and colors.

When we humans converse with each other we can only take in about 65 bits of information per second. This explains why, much as we try, we cannot hold two conversations at the same time.

Let’s say we have high capacity brains in Puerto Rico and that we can process a full 300 units of digital data every second. When we look at a business web page, we then can scan about half a line of text per instant.

Not much.

Couple this with typical human attention span issues on the Web and we have a true challenge in maintaining interest in our page content.

As Web navigators go, kids are the most impatient. If they don’t find something interesting in 15 to 30 seconds, they leave a page or move on to other sites. Young adults hang around a full 60 seconds, maybe another minute but get bored or restless after that. Older folks, specially men, hang on to a web page for some two to three minutes; women cybernauts even a bit longer but soon, attention span is also lost quickly.

‘Attention is like an elastic band’
As we can see, attention to Web content is like an elastic band. No, it will not stretch forever.

What to do?  Simple. Post only content truly relevant to the purpose of your Web site. Never hang adornments around key information.  This subtracts attention span.

Avoid vagaries, platitudes and cute pictures or unnecessary graphs of no use to a visitor’s purpose. Doing so, subtracts even more attention.

Forcing a visitor to scan extraneous bits and bytes reduces you chances to put forward you most potent message, that of your product or services.

Think of it as the vacuum cleaner salesperson who banters on and on about how he went into sales instead of the movies, drowning in you all interest in the product.

Good attention span research also proves that 90 percent of people will not look at more than the first ten messages on a Web page. Good reporters know this well and put all the potent data in the first five paragraphs.

Adding undue information and needless links, distracts the customer from your most valuable content.

Here’s another mischievous trick. Make the customer feel you posted the information they most needed. Information that will help that person decide to buy your product. How? By offering data that can help a person solve a problem. In this case, a problem your product or services will solve.  Don’t hang data about your company or your spectacular accomplishments in life.  Hang data about problem solving.

One marketing expert said in a most intelligent way:  “What is value? On the Web, value is not what the organization thinks is valuable. Value is what an impatient customer values.”

An impish mind twister, all right. But, so true.

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