How to Battle Shrinking Attention Spans with Great Content

082409 Bored Child School
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Every word etched into the tubes and electrons or whatever it is computer screens are made of serve two purposes: It’s relaying some sort of information in the content and also, subconsciously, being evaluated to see whether the next word should even be read. That’s a long way of saying: We get antsy reading on the Internet. If we don’t like what we’re reading, we can go somewhere else. If you have a pay gate, you’re usually not even an option for people.

Ultimately, though, the Internet lives and dies by content. It’s the stuff we spend our time looking at, listening to, downloading and watching.

This will hardly shock anyone, I’m sure, but a lot of the stuff on the Internet is pretty crummy (before you say it, know this: Inc. Well is fabulous!) There are a lot of reasons for this, but that can’t be fully addressed, much less solved, in a single blog post. Instead, I want to hip you to this post has on determining whether your content sucks.

It’s okay if it does, but you should really address it sooner than later. Especially when you consider the fact that the average attention span for podcasts is about 20 minutes --take note, folks who do three-hour podcasts -- and those who do eight-hour ones, I don’t know what to say since you’re probably so in love with your own voice and personality you don’t read sites for advice anyhow.

But don’t just take it from me. According to the Guardian:

Studies have shown that 32% of consumers will start abandoning slow sites between one and five seconds. Bounce rate can be improved by up to 30% with the reduction of page size and resulting speed improvements. A one second delay in page load time can result in 11% fewer page views, 16% decreased customer satisfaction and 7% lost conversions.

Anyway. How can you tell whether your content is boring? says if it’s worth reading on a Sunday afternoon (provided you don’t know the author), if it engages someone’s emotions or helps them learn something and if it’s intended to benefit someone other than the author, then you’re golden. If not, you’d be lucky to be bronze.

Don’t just throw words against a screen and see what sticks. Stay on point and help others, because if all you’re doing is talking about yourself and how great you are, well, the reason nobody’s contradicting you is because no one’s listening.

And, hey, since you got this far in this article, I just wanted to let you know: I prefer crunchy peanut butter to smooth peanut butter, but I'm not really sure why!

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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