July 20, 2015
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Hook A New User

How long do you have to hook a new user?

The human attention span fits into two distinct categories: transient attention and sustained attention. When you are cramming for an exam, investigating a new skill, or otherwise engaged in deep learning, you are engaged in sustained attention; this allows you to focus for extended periods of time so that you can absorb and analyze complex concepts. When in sustained attention, you have between five and twenty minutes before the mind requires a break. However, in transiet attention, the mind has only seconds (as little as 8 seconds according to some research) to respond to a stimulus. When you attempt to read a sign along a walking route, for example, you focus only briefly before losing interest.

When browsing the internet, a user is likely not to be engaged in sustained attention. Discovery of new websites is often the act of casual interaction; a random click of a link, the following of a story, the comments of a conversation. When a user arrives at a new website in this way, they are likely to be in the transient phase of attention. That means that you have only seconds to grab their attention and convince them to move their mind into sustained attention for a deeper dive.

Make sure that your design is able to warrant sustained attention!
Make good use of those eight seconds and hook each new user as quickly as possible.

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