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July 13, 2012

8 Blog Essentials for Our 9 Second Attention Span

Nine Seconds! A Goldfish!

The BBC announced, “The addictive nature of web browsing can leave you with an attention span of nine seconds – the same as a goldfish.”

Wow! If nine seconds is all the time you have to grab a visitor’s attention, it’s not your content that’s going to draw them in, but rather how your blog looks and the emotion it evokes that will make all the difference.

Will your visitor stay and look around? Or will they click, be gone forever and never return?

In an instant, your blog needs to project a positive visual impression that captures your visitors’ attention and has them stay awhile reading your blog and moving from page to page checking you and your information out.

What’s Working Now refers to a very interesting study performed by Dr. Jakob Neilson, who revealed that people search a web page for information in an F-shaped pattern.

First, our eyes flow across the top of the page, reading the headlines and the first paragraph. If the first paragraph is well written, it will be read in its entirely.

Second, our eyes move down the left side of a page, scanning and stopping to read if something grabs our attention.

Third, our eyes move across the page just above the mid-line. Again we scan and read parts of the second paragraph.

Fourth, our eyes skim to the bottom of the first page.

Taking the above research into consideration, and with my research of effective blog lay out, there are 8 Blog Essentials that you need to implement when creating your web site.

You want to create an environment that’s easy on the eyes, easy to navigate and draws the visitor in all at the same time.

– The 8 Blog Essentials –

1. Aesthetics

The look of your blog should be pleasing to the eye. Choose colors that complement one another. Keep your blog uncluttered with plenty of empty white space so visitor eyes can travel around easily.

I would remove the Tag Cloud if you have one. They are too distracting with a zillion different font sizes and styles.

List your blog topics in a side bar in alphabetical order. Make it easy for your visitor to search your content.

2. Usability

Visitors won’t stay on your site if it takes too much time to obtain the information they want. Make sure all of your links work properly and are highlighted and that your pages load quickly.

Pingdom is a free page test tool. It tells you how fast pages load. Realize that images take longer to load than text.

3. Font Size and Style

Most web designers agree that a 12-14 pt font is best. You can use up to 3-4 different font sizes throughout your blog. More than that and it looks junky.

When choosing a font style, keep it simple and avoid the fancy fonts. Know that not all computers can display all fonts. Choose fonts that are considered “Web Font Safe.” These are available on most computers.

Examples of Web Font Safe fonts are: Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, Geneva and Veranda. These fonts are san-serif, fonts that do not have little hooks or serifs on the end of the letters. Not having these hooks makes it easier to read the text on our computer monitors.

Have you noticed? I have the “hooks” at the end of each letter. The hooks almost make the lettering look like script. I knew something was off but not until I was researching material for this blog did I realize what the problem was.

So with my next blog you will see san-serif fonts with the help of my virtual assistant. With the purchase of the Pro Blog Academy modules, I received 40 hours of free “virtual assistance” as a bonus!

4. Paragraphs

You want your visitor to move from paragraph to paragraph as you build curiosity, fascination and provide valuable information. Blogs are not books so break paragraphs up. This is best accomplished when your paragraphs are no longer than 3- 4 lines, tops.

5. Headings

All headings should be bolded and/or underlined. Place your headline on the left side of your blog… this will support the results from the study on F-shaped pattern eye tracking.

Use multiple subheadings to break up each section of your blog material and again this makes it easier to scan, stop and read.

6. List

Use lists where ever possible. This fits into Dr Neilson’s study. Lists line the back of the letter F… so if our eyes track downward (the back of F), we scan a list quickly and are more apt to find something of interest to stop and read.

Keep your lists short. No one is going to read a list of the “54 Best Whatever for X.” If you have more than 10 items in a list, break your list down by category with a underlined subheading for each.

7. Column Width

The narrower the width of the reading area, the better. Newspapers and magazines have adhered to this rule forever. Our eyes track faster in smaller spaces and can read more without wandering off.

When selecting a theme design, choose the two or three columns design with the sidebar on the right. This creates a smaller reading area on your posts. Remember, narrow is better!

8. Images

Images have to be attention grabbing and should support the blog content. Always place an image of some kind like a photo, a graphic or a video at the top left corner of your blog. That’s the first place your visitor’s eyes tracks to, as per Dr. Neilson. What’s in that space will determine if your visitor reads or leaves.

For great photos and images, I use They have a huge library of photos to download for free as long as you acknowledge their site on your blog.

Proof Your Draft

Before you publish, save your blog as a draft and preview it from your dashboard. Besides reading it… really look at the layout with a critical eye. Do you have the 8 Blog Essentials?

Article by Dallas R Piana, Independent Consultant and Internet Marketer