Visual Content for the Modern Attention Span

by | May 13, 2015 | Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy

High speed internet, mobile devices, and social media have all contributed to our need for instant gratification. In just seconds we know what our friends are up to, or the location of the nearest coffee shop. We have become accustomed to this fast-paced lifestyle—and it’s affecting our patience.

Studies show our attention span is less than half what it used to be. But whether that number is ten seconds or three, what matters is we only have a moment to draw viewers in. As content marketers, we have our work cut out for us. So how do you adjust and hold the attention of your audience long enough to share your message?


A great place to start is by cutting down your content—try to get your message across in as few words as possible. This can be a challenge when you have a lot to say, but the key is to intrigue your audience—if they want to know more about your business they will dig deeper and happily invest more time by visiting your website or picking up the phone.

If you’re having trouble, consider splitting your content into more than one deliverable—a two-part eGuide is a great solution.


Short & sweet content is important, but still ineffective if no one takes the time to read it. Remember we are catering to a short attention span—offer many useful stats, pullout quotes and include relevant graphics to help break up a sea of text and make your piece more approachable.

An infographic is a popular way to share numbers—and with good reason. They offer a quick, attractive way to present content in which a reader can choose to skim the main stats or read top to bottom.


Even the strongest content is weak without strong visuals. So what makes a content piece successful today?

  • Flat-ish. Simple: The flat user interface trend has taken off since the release of Apple’s iOS7. It has since evolved into semi-flat design. Drop the drop shadows and beveled edges—include more white space, larger buttons, cleaner fonts, and bright pastels.
  • Visual Hierarchy: We pay more attention to things that are in contrast of other things. This doesn’t only apply to color—don’t forget to vary contrast in shape, position, and font size/weight in order to highlight main points and stats. This is especially important for catering to skimmers.
  • Emotional Visual Experiences: Choose/create graphics that push boundaries and evoke emotion. Make people laugh or tug at their heart strings when appropriate. This is one of the most effective ways to be remembered and get content shares.
  • Illustrations: In general, illustrations have replaced awkward stock photos (also known as the fastest way to lose your audience). However, we are starting to see more and more unique and high quality stock photo options.
  • Don’t Overthink It: While the graphics you use should be relevant, they don’t always have to be literal. The purpose is to attract attention—especially in an infographic.

No matter which design format you use to execute your content marketing piece, keep your modern audience in mind. Offering a useful, easy read with strong visuals is often key to keeping your readers’ attention and encouraging them to share your content with others.

When all else fails, partner effectively.

NuGrowth Digital can help. To find out how, contact the NuGrowth team at 800-966-3051 or fill out a contact form and we will be in touch.

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Author: Mandi Mellott

Mandi designs content marketing pieces and website elements for NuGrowth Digital clients. She uses her background in visual communication and journalism to build compelling experiences that visually and emotionally engage users.