Online Readers Have No Attention Span

So writers serve it up fast and simple, with lists and links
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2008 6:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Web readers are fidgety, so writers have to serve up the goods fast, Michael Agger writes in Slate. For example:

  • Online readers are “selfish, lazy, and ruthless,” according to theorist Jakob Nielsen.
  • They are informavores hunting for information at all costs.
  • They like text short, scannable, and occasionally bold.
  • And especially love lists.

Still there? Bless you. Let’s risk a long paragraph: The web isn’t conducive to lucid reading—that is, engrossing, pleasurable reading. Books immerse you in a trance; online, you read between IMs.  So one-idea paragraphs are best.  Other tips for online writers:

  • Links look authoritative.
  • Frequent, explanatory subheads are also good.
  • Slice your word count in half.
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