DIstractions

Whether it’s a news headline, story or Web page, a common goal for trained reporters, editors, and designers is to produce quality content that will attract and retain attention. A “kick out” represents an obstacle to that goal. Anything on a given web page that competes with the primary interest of the user is deemed a cognitive “kick-out” because it increases the chances of a user reading/viewing other content, going to another Web site, or terminating use all together. Our research notes that avoiding potential “kick-outs” is equally important to attention-getting strategies.

In the context of producing journalism, early research of text comprehension demonstrated that the most fundamental “kick-outs” were incoherent texts and words unfamiliar to the reader. Today, more elements on a Web page and countless choices for other sites significantly increase the risks for “kick outs.” Here are just a few examples:

  • an overwhelming amount of information
  • technical difficulties
  • information perceived to be outdated
  • too many ads
  • unacceptably slow download times
  • confusing jargon or unknown terms
  • content perceived to have little or no relevance
  • too much time required to comprehend the content
  • unavailable products or information (i.e. broken links)
  • too many or too few graphics
  • links to another page that covers the current page.
  • irritating or offending comments from others
  • content from citizens in another community
  • poorly produced media
  • too many blog comments
  • dated content
  • content with ideologies inconsistent with those of the user

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