Chandler Turner's Information Optimization Blog | Focused on Your User Experience and Strategic Website Content Development



Website Content and Human Cognition

Unless crafted properly, readers are predisposed to ignore the information on your Website.

In my previous article I suggested that Website content must be systematically engineered before visual designs are chosen.  The reasons have been scientifically proven beyond any doubt. But what should the content be? How much? This is another hotly contested debate that need not take place.

The answer is not a choice between a great deal of information too little. Rather, properly designed sites are those that introduce ideas simply and then cascade into broader and more complex information. Please note that highly technical products are no different. The information should still come slowly.

Too often, important details come in an avalanche that is mentally more challenging than it should be.

There are a number of forces acting on us simultaneously not the least of which is the fact that we live in a world of clutter. We receive thousands of messages daily. What do we respond to positively? We respond to simple and engaging information, absent the clutter.

A fantastic example is an event reported in The Washington Post involving Joshua Bell, one of the world’s finest living musicians. Here was one of the most noted musicians in the world, playing a 45 minute live concert (free), on one of the most valuable instruments in the world, starting with a piece of music so difficult that most violin virtuosi will not touch it, and almost no one stopped to listen. Why? It was because he was playing at the entrance to Le Infant Plaza of the Washington, DC metro during morning rush hour. The clutter was too much. (if you Google the event, you can see the video and the fascinating article)

Website content is no different. You must un-clutter ideas before people are motivated to pay attention. How? We reveal how people can personally relate to the value of ownership in as short a time as possible – without the addition of fluffy marketing language. In fact, ”marketing-speak” has been found to instantly cause credibility issues in the minds of readers.  If interest is gained in the simplicity of the introduction, readers will engage and you have given them reason to dig for more.

Clutter is mentally painful and we routinely reject information that is too complex until we are shown why we should become more involved with it.  It is subconsciously repelling to be overwhelmed with information. That is what happens when you get to the home page of a Website and are confronted with a large amount of information and a host of navigational choices. That part of our cognitive understanding – the unconscious mind – begins to act before we realize we have been influenced by it.

I am a also big proponent of carefully chosen or designed graphics. We are capable of making visual decisions in as little as 1/50,000 of a second. Therefore, well chosen graphics are vitally important. But beyond the visual flash, there must be substance that registers. Together, they serve to motivate the action we desire – the contact from a prospect who has been motivated so ask for more information.


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