Watching a teenager slide, click, and type on her phone is mesmerizing—and terrifying if you are a college administrator trying to capture her attention for even 30 seconds.
Guess what? A recent study by Microsoft found that 30 seconds is, like, forever. In reality, today’s average attention span is 8 seconds—a second less than the 9-second attention span of a goldfish. Because of our increased media consumption, our ability to focus for extended periods of time has decreased. But interestingly, the study also found that our ability to process information and transform that information into memory has actually gotten faster. In other words, website visitors will read and process your message, but only if it is delivered quickly and effectively within this 8-second window.
What can you do to grab their attention in 8 seconds?
Responsive web design—interacting with site visitors based on their behavior and platform—is perhaps the most important feature your website should have. If your website is slow to load or does not change to accommodate the screen it is being viewed from, you’ve lost that 8-second window to poor usability. Don’t think that prospective students will wait around or seek out your message on another device. In 8 seconds, they have swiped you out of their mind.
Even more disturbing, many search engines now give mobile-friendly websites a boost in ratings. This means that if your site is not responsive to a variety of platforms and orientations, your visibility on Google and other search engines will plummet. No visibility = fewer recruitment opportunities.
Knowing that prospective students live on their phones, your website should not only include responsive design, but your message must be clear, relevant, and on point. Use images and engaging media to sustain their attention, and include succinct forms and interactive experiences across platforms to continue the conversation. Don’t forget, your forms should be responsive, too. In fact, the 2017 E-Expectations Trend Report found that 41% of high school seniors had completed a request for information form on a college or university website from their mobile device.
Finally, understand that students use multiple mediums at the same time—yet another reason for optimal responsiveness. Whereas parents tend to focus on only one media platform at a given time, it is common for students to watch television, text on their phones, and work on their computers simultaneously. Engaging information presented quickly is your best chance for an 8-second audience of prospective students.
Concerned about your website’s responsiveness? Get in touch with an OmniUpdate technology expert to help you better engage and interact with prospective students.