Do you often find yourself bored with going over the news? Tempted to just put articles aside because they aren’t engaging enough for you to reach the important points? Are you already considering closing this article simply because the main point hasn’t been addressed yet? You’re likely not alone. Studies and surveys have shown that the average human in the digital age can only dedicate their attention to one thing for approximately 8 seconds at a time before they need to attempt to refocus. This sort of attention span is less than the average goldfish. Ironically, the scientists involved (as well as Microsoft) propose that our ability and desire to multitask and process information from an array of sources at once has grown in the advent of the age of technology.
While this seems to have good intentions, it also seems to be a little contradictory. Most news articles or television pieces last well over 8 seconds and often contain written or spoken word with little else for the human mind to engage at the time when they are trying to process the information delivered to them. There isn’t much eye-catching about a few paragraphs worth of news, so maintaining anyone’s attention for more than 8 seconds with that sort of offering seems like a rather tall order.
Many people have resorted now in the digital age to infographics to help them get their points across in a more concise manner that also often draws the eye to itself. Using visual prompts for the brain to interpret instead of a string of words that a reader has to put effort into consuming mentally seems to satisfy the condition of the average human’s shorter attention span.
In many cases, while still a rather sad alternative, infographics do have their benefits. Visuals that involve statistics to get points across on various topics, some of which can be rather important, are more likely to find success with implanting themselves in the minds of information consumers. Consider reading a multiple-paragraph article that includes a table of numbers relating to safety statistics in a given area. If you are one who cannot stay focused for several minutes at a time or needs to go over the same article several times to get the whole picture, you might become frustrated after a while. And yet, this information is vitally important. It contains methods for safety measures and correlating statistics to support an argument. But, without the simple ability to maintain focus enough to absorb all of that information, you may just miss out.
The same information provided as an array of stimulating visuals is more likely to keep your attention long enough to at least get the point across. Not to mention, the information provided by such visuals is much more easily digestible in the short term with the use of shorter, more to-the-point explanations. You are also more likely to retain it in the long term due to the use of images (and often bright colors) rather than the more arduous process of absorbing information audibly as you listen to a speaker or mentally by the written word.
This is the primary reason why advertising that focuses on visual effects works so well. We may not remember details of what is explained by those who appear in advertisements, but we are more likely to remember visual stimuli such as logos, symbols or prominent colors and themes associated with the advertisements. When referring to a single news story, the impact may not be nearly as heavy, but using infographics with statistics that relate to a news story can work to much greater effect when providing information or evidence for arguments.
And you even managed to read this whole article anyway.