Recently-published research by comScore revealed that Smartphone apps now account for 50 percent of all digital media time. When we add in time spent on apps on other mobile devices — such as tablets — this number goes up significantly. Similarly, another study found that the number of mobile-only internet users has exceeded the number of desktop-only users.
…unless you smartly optimize your app and website for declining attention spans, your business will suffer.
While these studies mainly point to increasing adoption of mobile internet, there is another overlying issue thanks to an increasingly mobile world: declining attention spans.
A recent study by Microsoft revealed that we’re experiencing progressively declining attention spans. The study, which surveyed 2,000 people and monitored brain activity of 112 others, found that we now have an attention span of eight seconds , compared to an attention span of 12 seconds in the year 2000.
Decline in attention spans is even more pronounced for mobile apps users, with a recent study by Jampp revealing that the attention span of mobile app users is reducing by 88 percent year over year. According to the study, session length for e-commerce apps reduced by 35 percent in the first quarter of 2016 alone.
We’re now in a period of the “app attention span”, and unless you smartly optimize your app and website for declining attention spans, your business will suffer. Here are some tips to help you optimize your app and website for declining attention spans:
Speed things up
The Jampp study, referenced earlier, found that people spend less than an average of 60 seconds on mobile apps. A similar study found that a three seconds delay in website load time will result in 40 percent of users abandoning your website. The very first step is to make your website and app lightning fast. Make it easy for people to take the most basic action in your app, or on your website, in less than 60 seconds.
Most app developers make the mistake of loading their app with lots of unnecessary features in the hopes that users will find it interesting. Unfortunately, that’s one of the key reasons why users avoid apps. It is important to avoid over-complication. Instead, make it so that users can perform the most basic tasks in your apps in seconds.
Give people an indication of progress
…completeness meters are so effective that research shows that 75 percent of people prefer to have one.
It is sometimes impossible make your website or app as fast as you want it to be, especially when transactions or sensitive information — which often rely on third-parties to facilitate the transaction — is being transmitted securely. In such an instance what is the best thing to do? Give people an indication of progress.
Research shows that we despise uncertainty, and nothing irritates an already impatient user more than not knowing where he/she stands, and how much longer it will take for an action to complete. By giving indication of progress, however, you can change everything.
Many major sites use this with great success: when you create a new LinkedIn profile, there’s a completeness meter showing you how many steps are left before your profile is completed. A new Gmail account also shows you how complete your profile is and what you need to do to make your profile fully ready. The consequence of this is that you focus mainly on completing your profile instead of getting distracted by how long it takes. In fact, completeness meters are so effective that research shows that 75 percent of people prefer to have one.
More simply put, if you spent 5 minutes filling your profile and an indication shows you your profile is 70 percent complete, you try to make sure your effort is not wasted. “It’s only 30 percent more effort left,” you tell yourself. In the same scenario but without the completeness meter, however, you simply tell yourself, “Come on, I’ve spent five minutes on this stuff and there’s no end in sight. Okay, I give up!”
Here’s an example of Dropbox using the progress meter:
Below is an example of LinkedIn using progress meters: