Regardless if you are exposed to content on a web page, mobile screen, or in a live presentation, the brain can process only a limited amount of information. For years, researchers from various disciplines have tested “cognitive load” to demonstrate that how content is presented affects how much content is comprehended.
Today’s digital content still includes “kick-outs” that terminate engagement.
The data from our longitudinal studies of the newest phone and tablet technologies continues to suggest that the ways digital content is produced in 2014 for both mobile and web environments lag behind the rapidly changing behaviors of sophisticated consumers. More radical changes in how content is presented (that is presenting the same content in multiple ways) is needed to maximize user engagement.
New tricks to “tease” the audience are not the answer.
Teasing the traditional newspaper audience with breaking news phrases worked well. While the same strategy may work today in certain environments (i.e. social media), using vague “teases” on a page of headlines or in tweets from a respected organization can be counter productive. Such teases also threaten the fundamental cognitive processes that mobile users employ to select and learn content. “Teases” that require more time for a mobile user to learn what the content is about is a strategy most users do not find attractive.
It takes only one “kick out” to terminate user engagement.
The “K” for “kick out” in the P-I-C-K model argues that anything that terminates a user’s attention to content is just as important as anything that attracts attention. Obvious kick-outs can be a “broken” URL link or an unknown scientific term. Less obvious kick-outs are videos that are too long or the commonly found page with too much text with no guidance for the three types of digital users (more on that to come in 2014). Much of the digital content today is still structured with the assumption that users will read most – if not all – of the content, which is becoming an increasingly rare outcome. The key, therefore, is trying to structure content with all four P-I-C-K elements, when possible, to accommodate the various types of digital users.