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3 Ways to Direct Your Visitor's Attention

You probably already know this, but your visitors are in a hurry. They’re anxious, maybe even impatient, to find the information they’re looking for. You literally have just a few seconds before they decide whether to leave and look elsewhere, or to stay and explore your site. So, how can you draw their attention to the most important parts of your message – the parts that address the key aspects of what you offer?


Most of your visitors don’t read a webpage word-for-word; they scan your webpage, picking up pieces of information along the way. Most of the time this scanning process is confirming or disproving what they already suspect. But when they run into information outside their current understanding, they’ll actually stop scanning to spend a little time reading a section of information they find interesting. Then it’s on to scanning again, because (of course) they’re in a hurry, and there’s a lot to take in on the webpage.


It’s important to understand what happens when your visitor doesn’t find the key points of your message: they leave. They leave without responding to your call to action (CTA). And they promptly forget you ever existed. However, if we can get them to understand your message more quickly, there’s a good chance they’ll stay and explore more of what you have to say. Plus, it’s likely they’re respond to your CTA. This is why we should direct our visitor’s attention to the key points you’re trying to communicate to them.


There are some things on your webpage that speak directly to what your visitor is looking for. But there are other things put there as support, or to address other aspects of the subject such as their concerns, possible objects, pricing, etc. So, some parts of your message are key and they need to be noticed and understand as quickly as possible. When your visitor has decided that, yes, what you have is what they’re looking for, then they will look for and find all the supporting information you have.


Most people don’t instinctively know the best ways to direct their visitor’s attention to a particular key point, but there are specific techniques you can use to make certain elements of your webpage stand out. Here are three of the most important methods:


  1. Facial Bias: One of the first things we learn after being born is to recognize faces, starting with our mother’s face. For the rest of our lives, we spend significant amounts of time looking at and memorizing the faces of people around us. We have a natural affinity for faces and because of this, faces rank particularly high in what we notice. If we associate our key message with an image of a face it will immediately get the attention of your visitor. If the face in the image is looking at or pointing to your key message it will have an even stronger attention-getting impact. Also, the faces themselves can display meaning that adds to and supports your message.


  1. Motion Bias: Things that move catch our attention over elements that are stationary. With today’s technology, we have a wide variety of ways to add motion to a webpage. We can include movement to text and images as they are initially displayed on the page or when the cursor hovers over them. There is a special kind of image movement that’s a little more subtle called parallax. This is where the background image scrolls up at a different speed than the foreground text (or overlaid image). You can see this technique used in the “Hero” image at the top of our Home page. This is used to direct our visitor’s attention to our primary key messaging point. We also often use icons that include motion when they draw themselves. And of course, there’s video, which combines the spoken words of your message with the visual impact of movement.


  1. Contrast Bias: Our attention is drawn to items that contrast with their surroundings. We most often think of color when we talk about contrast. Whether it’s text, images, graphics, or any other element, using a contrasting color will help it stand out. Some of the most attention-getting color schemes are white on dark blue, yellow on black, and yellow on dark blue. But contrast can also be incorporated through the size, shape, and even the position of the element you want to draw attention to. We can also use a lack of contrast to deemphasize points that are less important.


We should always be careful to use techniques that support your message and don’t distract from it. For example, you wouldn’t want to use images of happy, laughing people on a website for a funeral parlor. Nor would you use motion to pop those images up as they display on the page. The attention getters should be selected carefully and appropriately, so for that website, we’d use size, color, and position to direct attention.


Because we have years of experience in communication arts, we are ready and able to help you direct the attention of your visitors to the most significant portions of your message quickly and appropriately. Envision having a website where your most important messaging points are immediately noticed by your visitors. If this sounds important to you, please schedule a free consultation. We never charge to talk with you, and we’d love to provide assistance to you. Perhaps you don’t need a new website, but you have a question on how to tweak your current website – no problem. We’d be more than happy to answer any question you might have, even if you’re working with someone else. The important thing to remember is we’re here to help you succeed.

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