Finding good information on the Internet is a lot like trying to drink from a fire hose: there’s plenty of water, but you’ll struggle to take a sip. That’s the problem behavioral economist Shlomo Benartzi tackles in his new book, which highlights different strategies web designers can deploy to cut through the clutter. Retailers, for example, should stick to mainstream fonts (Helvetica, Arial) since they’ve been proved to expedite thinking, whereas educational sites should try unconventional lettering to help readers remember facts. And banks might consider offering an app that digitally ages selfies; that feature, while odd, has been shown to prime users to think about saving for retirement. Although this may seem manipulative, Benartzi argues it’s a necessity for companies that want to survive in an increasingly competitive digital marketplace. Good business, he writes, used to be about “owning real estate and oil wells”; now it’s about owning attention. In that sense, he writes, “We need to treat attention as a literal resource.”
This appears in the October 12, 2015 issue of TIME.