Every second counts

What will you be doing in nine seconds time?

More than likely you won’t be reading this blog. The average human attention span is eight seconds. Even a goldfish has a better attention span.

Here are my three tips on writing for the web…

1. Short and sweet

I only achieve simplicity with enormous effort - Clarice Lispector

Concise writing is hard and takes time. Do the work so the reader doesn’t have to. The quicker you get your key message across the more chance the user will have read it before they lose interest.

To find out more about the perfect copy length read this great blog post ‘the optimal length for every social media update and more’.

2. Show and tell

We all notice pictures on a web page more than the words.

Eye tracking experiments show users spend more time looking at pictures compared to text and more time looking at ‘relevant’ compared with ‘non-relevant’ images .


Adding a picture shouldn’t be an afterthought. Treat images with the importance they deserve….but don’t feel like you have to add an image. If the image doesn’t support your key message, don’t use one. A reader’s attention span is so short you don’t want to distract them from what’s important.

3. Get someone else to read it

Four sticks! No it's 3

Just because you can spell the 1,025,109 words in the English language and recite the grammar rule book doesn’t guarantee perfect copy.

We see the world from one perspective, our own, and it takes special effort to see it from someone else’s.

Getting another person’s interpretation of your copy can iron out any misunderstandings and ensure your key message isn’t lost.

Do you have any top tips on writing for the web?  

@peterbrumby, Digital Communications Manager for The Co-operative Group.

One thought on “Every second counts

  1. Tin November 18, 2015 / 9:00 am

    Great post Peter! Some great links to further resources too that i’ll be reading on my lunch break. Thanks for sharing.
    One tip is using eye catching elements, whether it be big bold headings or images to provide ‘scent of information’.


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