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.)
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. …
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.
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.
Learn to Master the Art of the Storyteller, Catch Your Readers, Get Clicked, Cut Through the Clutter and more
Rather bring Ann in to train your whole team?
Ask about piggybacking on my upcoming engagements in: