The tools and technology used to create digital media are changing all the time— it’s a fine line achieving balance between cutting edge and ease of use. At the same time, it can be tough to keep people’s attention long enough to get your message across before they click to the next shiny website. Below are five key points to help you make the most of your next online project.

1. Humans are easily bored and distracted.

There are a lot of people on the web with “itchy mouse fingers” so keep it brief and on topic. Studies have shown most users make up their mind on whether to remain on a website in only 8 seconds. That’s one second less than the attention span of a goldfish. If you want to deliver a lot of information with higher recall, consider publishing the content as a series of topics on separate web pages. Being a better guitar player is a topic of great interest to some (including myself), but Music Radar breaks it down into a “quick-read” list of 46 tips.

2. People like to think they know what they’re doing. So help them.

People appreciate a certain comfort that comes with familiarity. They like knowing what to do even as they are discovering something new. It’s ok to push the boundaries as long as you’re aware that you don’t need to redesign the user experience every time you publish something new online. For example, while there are thousands of different magazine designs, they all share certain elements, like a cover, table of contents, contributor pages, etc. In the same manner, websites should have easy-to-follow navigation consistently placed on each page of the website, links should be easy to find, while footers provide additional navigation options.

3. Encourage people to reach out to you.

Let’s face it – anything you put online has the power to provoke discussion. You should be part of that discussion. In fact, it would be even better if you provided a forum to house this discussion. At the very least, you should encourage feedback. This site does it all. They offer an instant feedback form, making it easy for investors to talk with the company. They also encourage people to join the conversation within their social network. Worst-case scenario? The company discovers a common investor concern that could be addressed in real-time. The best case? The company’s story is spread even further on the Internet through positive word-of-mouth testimonials.

4. A picture is worth 1,000 words, but a video is priceless.

It’s proven that people absorb information more readily through images… even more so when those images are moving, and it’s even better if those images are accompanied by sound. So, unless you plan on producing an animated flip-book delivered by a singing courier (which would be awesome!!), then an online video is a smart and simple solution to help deliver your information faster and with higher recall. This video takes a rather technical topic and turns it into an engaging overview of the satellite mapping process. Even with a low level of initial interest in the topic, the average viewer will watch through to the end.

If that example doesn’t prove the value of video over words, consider this: Larger corporate companies and Fortune 500 companies reported that user engagement increased almost 75 percent on average when they used videos to speak to their existing customer bases. And it gets even better. According to the Content Marketing Institute, viewers are up to 10 times more likely to engage, embed, share, and comment on video content compared to other posts.

5. Don’t let the technology distract from your purpose.

A new and exciting visual experience can keep viewers on your site longer, but you need to ask yourself: “What do I want the audience to remember after they leave my site?” If your audience can’t stay focused on the message you are trying to deliver, why are you communicating at all? You should seek to employ those tech-tricks to enhance the impact and recall of your message. This online annual report merges an interactive experience with the overall concept and design quite nicely.

If the purpose of communicating is to be understood, then everything you do online should be judged by that goal. Employ the tools and solutions that improve viewer engagement and knowledge retention. There is a mountain of information out there, but if you use the technology behind online media wisely, your message will stand a better chance of getting noticed.


As an Art Director and Designer, I am responsible for developing visual solutions that are smart, simple and surprising. In addition to strategic design, I enjoy illustration, animation and soundtrack design. My visual portfolio covers the communications spectrum from investor relations to consumer marketing (B2B and B2C). My design solutions range from websites to tradeshows, and have earned international recognition for many of my clients including Enerflex, Freehold Royalties and Gran Tierra Energy. With more than 22 years of communication and design experience, I have been a creative force behind the corporate brands of WestJet, Total E&P, SAIT, Crescent Point Energy, Newalta and many more.