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Question:How do I generate interest in my website?

Answer:On a very broad level, things attract attention if they are personally relevant, pleasant, surprising, or easy to process.

Personally Relevant: Consumers pay attention to things that that have implications or consequences for their lives, especially if they appeal to their needs, values, or goals. We also pay attention to people who look, act, or seem like ourselves, perhaps because we think they have similar needs, values and goals, similar problems and perhaps, because they know something we donít.

Is it Pleasant?: We attend to things that are inherently pleasant. No doubt this has evolutionary significance. We want to approach things that make us feel good and avoid those that donít. Try using attractive visuals, humor or music to make your site more pleasant.

Is it Surprising?: We attend to novel things -- those that are new and unique -- because they are different and require analysis. Of course, being new, unique, and different is hard work and requires creativity. Talking Internet ads, shockwave technology, pop-up ads and the like were all, at one time, novel ways of attracting attention. Unfortunately, once something new comes along, its very success makes others want to copy it, which makes it old, not new.

A second feature affecting surprise is unexpectedness. Unexpected stimuli are not necessarily new, but their placement is different from what we are used to. 3-M created attention with surprising ads that featured chickens with fluorescent, stick-on notes with words like "Rush" and "Copy" stuck to their bodies. One company showed a picture of a man and woman gazing intently at their wallpaper while their baby swung from the ceiling fan. Unexpectedness is a much easier thing to achieve than novelty.

There are a lot of ways in which we can achieve these things, which we explain in greater detail in our tutorial on attention.


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