Bad news: most of your customers don’t (like to) read. Good news: design can help.

Attention spans are shrinking, but that really doesn’t matter to you. What matters is that your content’s being ignored. Like it or not, your white papers aren’t catching the attention of anyone who doesn’t absolutely have to read them. Even then, they skim. This isn’t A Clockwork Orange. You can’t force people to engage in your content. You need to entice them.

That’s where design comes in. The content you create, and how you design it, should serve as a bridge between your marketing messages and your customers’ squirrel-like impatience and lack of interest. It’s not always easy to distill those concepts and facts down to a more digestible form, but if you aren’t willing to read and summarize your content, neither will your customers.

Make it move to make them notice

In nature, our brains ignore stationary objects to prioritize the stuff that moves, because moving animals are more likely to be a snack—or want to snack on us. Paying attention to moving objects is a natural survival instinct. We’ve found that simple animations have the same effect and can have a substantial impact, especially in places like emails and social posts where motion is often neglected. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not recommending you take a trip back to the days of blink or those 90s marching ants, but if you keep it classy, you can have a big impact. Here are a few motion examples to get you started.

Make a human connection with your audience

In marketing, it’s easy to forget to connect with the humans that ultimately drive buying decisions. Live video is the ultimate cure for that problem. No matter how well-written a white paper might be, readers will just never connect with it as deeply and personally as they can with live action video.

Visualize your information

There’s a reason that infographics and other visually-dominant content remain popular. When done well, they can be very engaging and offer a different approach to explaining complicated IT concepts. But it’s important to keep them clean and inviting to prevent confusing readers. These three infographics, for example, limit the colors and text treatments used to stay reader-friendly.

Summarize or suffer the consequences

If the amount and detail of your content requires a multi-page document, a content brief or summary (and a beer for your designer’s broken heart) is a must. Ensure that the document includes a brief overview including a visual treatment to keep the section from blending in with the text-wall of visual boredom.

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