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Designing Content for Attention

Three hashtags: Design, Attention, Engagement

Designing for attention is important because it ensures that the most important information or elements in a design are easily noticeable and understood by the user. This can increase usability and engagement, and help the user achieve their goals more efficiently. In today’s digital age, users are often overwhelmed with information and have limited attention spans, so designing for attention can help them process and retain the information they need. Additionally, it can help to create a positive user experience, encouraging them to return to the website or app in the future.

Why care as a content strategist?

Good question. The thing is, as generalist as a content strategist may be, he or she must not design the content themselves. It is up to designers with years of practice and practical design-knowledge to do so. But the strategist needs to at least be able to judge design on it’s effectiveness, in order to suggest improvements. Those are usually to let users better understand your content, navigate it, engage with it, or also just leave if the content is not for them. To be able to spot weak spots in another person’s design is a useful skill. And most of the time, it boils down to very basic design components: colors, shapes, size, motion, etc.

So how do we design our content better to grab a user’s attention?

Many ways to choose from

There are several ways to design content in a way to better grab a user’s attention. This list does not at all claim to be complete, and with new technology there are always new ways added. But this overview should give you as content strategist bits and pieces to work with for a start.

  • Use clear and concise language: Avoid using jargon or complex language that may be difficult for users to understand. Keep sentences short and to the point.
  • Use headings and subheadings: These help to break up text into smaller, more manageable chunks, making it easier for users to scan and find the information they need.
  • Use visuals: Images, videos, and infographics can be a powerful way to grab users’ attention and make information more engaging.
  • Use contrast: Use contrasting colors or typography to make important information stand out.
  • Use white space: Use blank space around elements to make them stand out and to make the content easier to read.
  • Use calls-to-action: Use action-oriented language and design elements to encourage users to take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase.
  • Use animation: animation is a great way to grab users’ attention, and can make your website or app more engaging and interactive.
  • Make it Personalize: Use personalization features like users name, location, history to make them feel unique.
  • Simplify Navigation: Make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for by providing clear and intuitive navigation.
  • Be consistent: Use consistent design elements throughout your website or app to create a sense of familiarity and to help users navigate more easily.

Summing up

So not only the way content looks, but also how text is formulated and how you use multimedia-elements like motion graphics play a role. Of course using ALL of them at the same time will hardly improve your users experience but rather give them a headache. It is up to you and your designer to pick the right tools for your use case. Flashy motion graphics might not be the right fit for your high-end-interior-shop. Maybe use more white space there. And using a lot of sound elements might not be the right choice for a hearing-aid company. You get what I want to say here right? Enhance your content with design to grab attention in a way that fits the  business you are doing it for. So you don’t accidentally grab the wrong kind of attention!


There are also tons of guides and blogs out there to help you design better content and content elements like CTAs, buttons, etc. Also my colleague Birgit wrote about elements of an engaging landing page here. Check some of them out here! 🙂