A Reader who Wandered is a Reader you had an Impact on

Photo by Elijah O’Donnell from Pexels

I am currently taking a Digital Books hiatus, and my first stop is Hyper Focus by Chris Bailey.

Well, not so much of a hiatus; more of a shaken not stirred approach to my reading habit.

In recent years, I have been holed up in the comfort space of buying and reading digital books- not only does it have a net positive impact on the environment, but also shaves off financial costs, offers manageable saved states (remember placing a bookmark in your print book and then finding it displaced later?) and easy and organized highlighting and note-taking.

However, my screen time is making my eyes bleed.

Thus, the shake-up.

On page 11, Chris mentions how our ability to focus is not limitless. NZT-48, anyone?

He talks about how it is normal for our focus to waver in the form of our mind wandering away from the words on the page onto the thoughts in our heads. Which, ironically, just made my focus wander away from the words of wisdom he has penned down to an internal dialogue.

And it got me Thinking…

At which instances, and exactly what moments during this time I have spent reading this book so far, has my mind wandered?

What does that say about the impact of words?

Looking back, every time the words presented a picture in my mind, or every time I found myself having an imaginary conversation- either in agreement or to the contrary, to the context laid out, my mind wandered. I wandered the strength of my response, the data support in favor of my answer, and the response to my response.

Wandering is touted to be the writer’s failure to engage the reader. It is feared that if a person is not reading with focus, is re-reading the last few paras over and over due to fictitious scenarios being played in their head, you have lost the reader. If it is a novel, the reader will eventually get out of their dreamland and resume their reading. However, if it is a blogpost, an online landing page, or a sales page and you want the visitor to convert, then let the visitor wander the halls of the internet is considered a loss. Hence the big marketing metric time spent on page gets a lot of attention.

However…

All those who wander are not lost

When reading a book such as Hyperfocus, I am reflecting on the day-to-day practices, frameworks, and systems that I have adopted.

I am taking stock- of my current practices, and how they will fit with the practices outlined in the book. Essentially, I am asking

⟶ Are there any practices that I already follow?

⟶ Is there a practice outlined that I follow but in a different shape or form?

⟶ Is there a practice that does not fit in my system?

I am wandering the depths of my personal being, yet I am connected to the book. I am NOT LOST.

As is the case with any book on productivity or self-help. If the reader cannot visualize the suggested advice or the pain point the book is trying to solve into their current practices, then the takeaway of the message is nada.

Similar is the story of landing and sales pages…

Pour Example

If someone is in the market for a new personal computer and the MacBook holds their fancy, they will consider the exact shortcomings and challenges it will help solve vis-a-vis their currently owned device.

While researching the tech specs of the MacBook line-up, if the visitor wonders how the promised performance translates to their needs and requirements and ends up away from the product page, that is a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).

Apple MacBook Page Product offering
Apple MacBook Product page. Screenshot by Author

When the Mac product page asks the visitor, ‘Which Mac is right for you?’ it is asking the reader to wander. Not only will the visitor have a detailed mental rundown of the product performance, but the reader will also spend time thinking over the current factors that influence the decision such as home office setup, commute(if any), the look and feel of using the device, etc. For eg: The visitor will try to ascertain the current time spent on their device, trying to ascertain the battery backup needs- Should I purchase the MacBook pro 13" over the air for an additional 2-hour runtime?

Or say, when the Macbook Air landing page opens with the hook: Power. It’s in the Air; the value offering of the product is highlighted right from the start. The visitor will wander the breadth of the internet to find the use case most similar to theirs, to find the meaning of the word ‘performance’ truest to them.

Does upgrading from their current device to save 30 seconds spent on resource-heavy tasks justify the purchase? What about saving 5 minutes?

In March 2022 when Apple had its spring event, the tagline was ‘peak performance’. Simply stated, it puts front and center the offering Apple had in store for their customers, but the copy also instills curiosity in their target audience. The main information synthesis, however, happens after the event has already happened and web visitors are flocking to the updated product pages. When evaluating the Mac Studio product offering, visitors will make a mental note of what the device brings to the table.

Wandering is the conduit that moves the information receiver from a passive state to an active, action-oriented stage.

So, content creators and businesses, let the readers wander, for they are the ones that have soaked in what you have to offer and your copy has ebbed them to do active research.

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