The art and science of optimising digital content for the web

It’s hard to think of a word that sums up a customer attempting to engage with a brand in the digital age as powerfully as the term time-poor. If you’re trying to capture your ideal consumer, chances are that you’re competing with an overflowing inbox and an endless stream of smartphone notifications, regardless of your industry.

It’s no wonder that a 2015 study by Microsoft found that the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to eight seconds since the digital revolution took hold in 2000.

Not surprisingly, then, optimising digital content for customers with minuscule attention spans has increasingly become a catalyst for business success. “Digital content has changed dramatically over the past few years,” says Vincent Garcia, Technical Trainer in Squiz’s Melbourne office. “These days, the most effective digital content is quick, short, and sharp. Instead of long introductions, we usually get straight to the point.”

Embrace the ‘F principle’

Before the internet, content creators were in a position to dictate the ways users consumed material, but when profits link to engagement levels, you must put the user first.

“At Squiz, we’ve done research, and now we focus on the ‘F principle’”, Vincent says. “When most people read a page, they consume it in an F shape. They’ll look at the top of the page, before quickly skimming to the bottom. People’s attention spans are changing now that we consume less print media.”

The lesson? Optimise your digital content by placing your lesser points at the bottom of the page and highlighting your key points straightaway.

Write first for yourself

Making content as digestible as possible for your users is achievable with a simple trick – writing it for yourself first. Putting yourself in your audience’s shoes is a sure-fire way to optimise content for the web. “Just write it as if you’re writing it for yourself, and then return to it and shorten it later,” Vincent says. “Write the content that you would want to read.”

Say goodbye to cluttered layouts

Readability and clarity are critical when optimising content, but it’s equally important to think about how your audience consumes your message and how the user experience unfolds.

Seamlessness and simplicity are the golden rules. “Make sure content is spread out across the screen and laid out so that it’s not all one chunky paragraph,” Vincent says.

Also, make sure you limit distracting videos and other visuals. “If you’ve got a video on the page that aims to grab your audience’s attention, it shouldn’t load until the user actually clicks it,” he suggests.

From getting familiar with the F principle to empathising with your user and streamlining busy interfaces, optimising digital content is key. You’ll connect with your audience and make your website sing.

You can get started with a new Squiz course that teaches everything from effectively updating your website to governing the content you publish.

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