In today’s fast-paced, ad-crammed, and smartphone-happy world, everything and everyone is clamoring for our attention. Shiny objects are everywhere, all at once. As a result, it’s becoming more and more difficult to get and hold a visitor’s attention long enough to communicate content, particularly if that content is not as shiny as its competitors.
A solution to this problem is to create a “hook” – grab the viewer’s attention by communicating a high-impact piece of information right off the bat; enough to pique their curiosity that they’ll (hopefully) want to explore the topic further on their own. TV shows are great at hooks. Remember the first few minutes of the TV show “LOST”? Jack wakes up to find that HIS PLANE JUST CRASHED ON A SUPER WEIRD ISLAND (and from that point on I failed to understand anything that happened on that show, but I digress).
Hooks don’t have to be loud and in-your-face to get visitors’ attention – an inviting visual display can be just as effective. The Eco Explorer table we created for the TELUS World of Science Edmonton is a good example of this. The table presents visitors with a stunning top-down visual display of an Amazon ecosystem and nothing else (at first glance). This visual hook is more than enough to attract visitors, who then waste no time exploring what the scene has to offer – and it offers a lot: sketches, notebooks, sounds, facts, animations, etc. It’s so inviting that it’s impossible NOT to explore it further. After seeing it for the first time, I instantly reverted to my childhood self and lost control. Before I knew it I was pressing the Jaguar audio button again and again and again, like a sugar-laden 5-year-old lost in some kind of gleeful trance.
Instead of lamenting the fact that people’s attention spans are getting shorter, we should consider it a blessing in disguise. After all, constraints have the welcome side effect of making us more creative – it’s no secret that thinking outside the box can result in some pretty interesting stuff. And it’s not just about the hooks. Well-designed hooks are important, but unless there is engaging and equally well-designed content to back it up, the hook won’t stay in for long. The hook may be shiny, but content is still king.
– Jason Clarke, Content Strategist