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Prevent Content Blindness

Two frustrated men look at a laptop

Has this happened to you? You’re wrapping up your quarterly Board presentation when someone interjects, “where can I find the Annual Meeting registration?” Or maybe you field weekly calls from frustrated stakeholders looking for your latest programs. If these challenges sound familiar, your website may be causing Content Blindness.

Content Blindness happens when your website can’t be navigated by the average person. The content is there, but people just can’t find it. Some organizations may try to combat Content Blindness by adding links to the homepage or creating microsites. But, be warned, those fixes can make the problem even worse.

Look for these symptoms to properly diagnose Content Blindness:

Scrolling/animated banners – It’s tempting to use splashy animated graphics to draw attention to a key message or upcoming event. But research supports that most people completely ignore banners and things resembling ads. Rotating images and headlines can become visual noise that audiences simply tune out.

Soundalike terms – Look at how your navigation and content sections are labeled. Do you have multiple content groupings that use terms like “News,” “Industry News,” and “News Highlights?” “Meetings”, “Events”, and “Programs” are also commonly used labels that your audiences may not be able to distinguish. This could cause them to gloss over a section thinking it’s content they’ve already seen.

Jargon, acronyms or organization-speak – Every organization has its own language that holds no meaning for outsiders. Even if you are a member-driven organization and can assume many of your external audiences have some familiarity, keep in mind that you are also speaking to people who may be new to your organization.

Redundant links – Repeating a link on a page may be intended to help guide the user to an action, but it also increases what’s called the interaction cost. Basically, your audience may stop seeing those links when there are too many options for their brain to process.

Broken search – For people who are search dominant, poor site search results can be a major contributor to Content Blindness. If people can’t search across all your content repositories or see relevant results, they will likely overlook important information.

The best way to address Content Blindness is by first assessing your site’s usability. Identify top tasks for your audiences and observe people as they attempt to perform those tasks. You can also install software that will anonymously track people’s movements as they use your site. Both types of testing will help you uncover bind spots that may inhibit a good user experience. 

Good diagnostic testing and regular website hygiene are critical for preventing Content Blindness. Taking these measures will help you identify pain points that may get in the way of a positive Mission Experience. Properly treated, you'll see better engagement with your online audiences and overall satisfaction with your website. 

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