October 24, 2017

Screen reading hurts your brain

Problem solving + divided attention = cognitive overload

It’s been proven in the lab: Online multitasking temporarily lowers your IQ more than smoking weed. (And, from what I’ve read, is a much less interesting way to get stupid.)

Screen reading reduces comprehension

Brain melt Screen reading reduces comprehension, reading speed and more. Image by abstrusa

That’s according to a 2005 study conducted by the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London and funded by Hewlett-Packard.

Is screen reading making you feel stupid? If so, join the crowd. Because while the web is best for helping people find information, it’s not so good at helping them understand it. (Comprehension, on the other hand, is print’s superpower.)

Blame it on cognitive overload. …

Overcome 3 obstacles to screen reading

Related stories

“I’ve had people come to our clinic saying they were going to quit their jobs because they couldn’t take reading on the screen.”
— David Grisham, optometry professor at the University of California

Overcome screen reading obstacles

Looking at webpages hurts visitors’ eyes, backs, brains

One of my goals in life is to never write anything that makes my readers throw up, resign and forget where they parked their cars.

Writing For the Web and Mobile

Reach Readers Online It’s easy reading paper. But how can you overcome the obstacles of reading on the screen to get the word out on the web? Image by Bino Storyteller

But that’s not easy when you’re writing for the web. Indeed, screen reading can make web visitors:

  • Throw up. Optokinetic Nystagmus — optometrist speak for the way your eyes flit down the screen when you scroll — causes a feeling like seasickness.
  • Resign. Some 50% to 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms of computer vision syndrome, according to WebMD. As David Grisham, optometry professor, University of California at Berkeley, says, “I’ve had people come to our clinic saying they were going to quit their jobs because they couldn’t take it.” (Not exactly the purpose of your intranet, is it?)
  • Forget where they parked their cars. Online problem-solving (to click, or not to click) combined with divided attention (You’ve got mail!) creates cognitive overload. And that makes people lose the ability to think and reason. As Nicholas Carr, late author of The Shallows, says, “Try reading a book while doing a crossword puzzle. That’s the intellectual environment of the Internet.”

But at Writing For the Web and Mobile our two-day digital-writing master class on Dec. 11-12 in Miami — you’ll learn to overcome the obstacles of screen reading to reach readers online.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Write for Mobile Websites: Overcome some of the 335 obstacles (Nielsen Norman Group) to reading on the small screen.
  • Reach Readers Online: People devote 86% of their time and attention to the upper two-thirds of a mobile screen, according to a study by Briggsby. Learn to reach them where their eyes are.
  • Cut Through the Clutter Online: “Short is too long for mobile,” says king of usability Jakob Nielsen. Learn to make every webpage you write easier to read and understand.
  • Reach Nonreaders with Microcontent: Web visitors don’t read; they skim. Make sure skimmers and lookers get the gist of your webpage with headlines, links and other microcontent that gets the word out.
  • Get a Web-Writing Workout With Wylie: Write, get feedback, rewrite — and leave with a totally rewritten piece as you master the techniques you learn in the workshop during our practice sessions.

Save $100: Get your early bird ticket by Oct. 11.

“This was the best writing workshop I’ve ever taken. It was packed with best practices backed up by research.”
— Liz Carmack, senior communications specialist, Texas Association of Counties

Polish your skills at these Master Classes

Learn to Master the Art of the Storyteller, Catch Your Readers, Get Clicked, Cut Through the Clutter and more

Register for Catch Your Readers in Kansas City: Ann Wylie’s persuasive-writing workshop in Kansas City on Nov. 16-17, 2017

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Register for Write For The Web and Mobile: Ann Wylie’s online-writing workshop in Miami on Dec. 11-12, 2017

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Register for Cut Through the Clutter - Ann Wylie's concise-writing workshop on April 17-18, 2018 in New York

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New York | April 17-18, 2018

Register for Catch Your Readers - Ann Wylie's persuasive-writing workshop on May 1-2, 2018 in Denver

 
Denver | May 1-2, 2018

Rather bring Ann in to train your whole team?

Catch Ann on the road

Save when you book a workshop while I’m in your neighborhood

Ask about piggybacking on my upcoming engagements in:

  • Atlanta: Nov. 13-14 & Sept. 10-11, 2018
  • Boston: Oct. 9
  • Chicago: June 12-13, 2018
  • Dallas: Oct. 16-20 & Oct. 2-3, 2018
  • Denver: May 1-2, 2018
  • Kansas City: Nov. 16-17
  • Los Angeles: Feb. 6-7, 2018
  • Memphis: Nov. 2
  • Miami: Dec. 11-12
  • New York: April 17-18, 2018
  • Portland: July 25-26, 2018
  • Roseville, CA: Oct. 24
  • Santa Fe: March 19-20, 2018
  • Washington, D.C.: Oct. 31 & Nov. 7-8, 2018

Keep up with my calendar.

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