Designing for Today's Audience

June 28, 2016


Ever wonder why you study certain ads while ignoring others completely or how long you actually pay attention to the ads you like?  According to recent studies, as published in Leon Watson’s article “Humans Have a Shorter Attention Span than Goldfish, Thanks to Smartphones,” the smartphone revolution has reduced the human attention span to eight seconds.  As a communications student and budding layout designer, I am learning first-hand the challenges of keeping an audience focused on my layouts and designs.  This article will discuss the challenges our short attention span poses to today’s layout designers and provide some tips to overcome them.


Keeping up with trends is nothing new to publishers, layout artists, and designers.  However, the advance of technology is forcing modern designers to match the speed of light, literally.  As a Gateway student, I am sharpening my skill set and as a budding entrepreneur in the design world, I am learning the tricks of the trade.  Here are five things to incorporate into your layouts and designs to combat today’s eight-second attention span.


1.) Pictures are worth a thousand words.  Nothing draws they eye in faster than a well-done photo or graphic.  An awe-inspiring visual provides more information faster and conveys it better than text; drawing the viewer into your layout to look for more information.  Understanding your target audience is key to making a photo or graphic work in your layout.


2.) On a personal note…  People respond to things that hit them on a personal level.  The first thing people want to know when they view any ad or layout is, “how does this affect me?”  In our fast-paced society, people do not feel they have time for anything that does not spark their interest immediately or improve their lives directly.  Putting a personal twist in the layout of an ad (based upon the wants and needs of the intended demographic) will create greater impact.


3.) Keep it simple, stupid.  The KISS rule is widely used and understood by entrepreneurs-turned-millionaires worldwide (think Gene Simmons of the band KISS).  Applying the KISS rule works in ads, website landing pages, and other layouts as well.  Providing just enough information to make the viewer want more, without overdoing it is key.


4.) Know thy enemy.  If smartphone technology is the cause of the reduced attention span, why not use it to your advantage?  Promote your ads and designs on social media or by blogging.  Invite your audience to participate in social media campaigns.  Along with free promotion, some social media platforms, like Facebook, even allow paid ads.  When designing layouts, remember to format your ads and landing pages so they are smart phone and tablet friendly.


5.) Less is more.  Exercise brevity and conciseness in your layouts.  Use a lack of information to your advantage.  Allow your audience to fill in the gaps in your information with their imaginations.  This will let them write themselves into the story behind the layout making them want to learn more.


It seems simple when outlined in an article like this.  However, if it was simple, everyone would be doing it.  Writing great copy and designing intriguing layouts takes the perfect mix of research, education, skill, and passion.  If you would like to read more on this subject, feel free to check out the following links:



How to Grab Your Target’s Attention in 8 Seconds or Less.

Less Is More. Don’t Be Ignored.

Humans Have Shorter Attention than Goldfish, Thank to Smart Phones.

KISS Principle (Keep it Simple, Stupid)

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CAH Promotions LLC
Phone: (262)-342-6269
P.O. Box 632
Burlington, WI 53105

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