Reading Time: 2 minutes

reading onlineDon’t panic. It’s not just you! It’s everyone. Whilst reading online, we struggle to concentrate on long articles.

We’ve also become rapid at scanning content. See grey box.

Designing Websites for the ADHD Era

This doesn’t mean you can’t write lengthy articles, with a bit more depth. In fact, this is often what visitors seek. However, it means you have to tempt them first, before they will commit.

Engage with Your Audience First

How did you end up reading this article? After reading the title, you clicked through. You then probably scanned the sub headings, before deciding to start reading the article.

By this point, you can hold the reader’s attention by:

  1. using bullet points and short sentances
  2. keeping paragraphs short
  3. making sure it’s relevant to your audience
  4. being informative, controversial or humorous

reading online Freddie Starr

Attention Grabbing Headlines

Without a strong enough headline, you won’t draw the reader in.

Try funny or shocking. For example, Daily Sport’s “Shoots You, Sir” classic headline had everything:

  1. Shocking – reporting on the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace
  2. Humorous – used a pun, referencing The Fast Show
  3. Short & punchy – just 3 words
  4. Audience appropriate – unlikely to cause offence. Readers are more likely to be Fast Show fans than Versace customers

How We Read Now

nicholas carr-the shallowsIn 2011, Nicholas Carr published the landmark book, ‘The Shallows’. It presents scientific evidence, on how we now absorb the written word, in the Internet Age.

Our Changing Brains

Due to it’s unique time period, researchers were able to find subjects who had never used the Internet before. In 2012, it was estimated this group made up 15% of the UK population1

Nicknamed Internots, this study made a remarkable discovery. For this group, how their brains processed information changed. They become better at scanning and worse at concentrating… within a week!

Everything You Know is Wrong

This has changed our scientific understanding of how the brain works. Our previous scientific understanding was that, how our brains processed information, was rigid. Up until the end of 20th century we believed, once we reached mid-childhood, how they operated was fixed.


Now we have learnt that dramatic changes in how our brains function, we need to adapt. Knowing this universal change is made, within an extremely short time period for every demographic, it can’t be ignored.

1 Source: John Walsh, Independant, 15 Nov 2012