Task Surfing

Think about how most of us live our lives these days.

surfing like a fox

(Photo credit: monkeyc.net)

If you’re like many folks you might feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day to get your job done, to consume all of the content that appeals to you, and to sneak a meal in there every once in a while.  Part of what’s going on in media is that content providers are learning how to reach consumers in a timely manner, giving them access to the programming consumers crave across all platforms and devices at any time and without delay.  That same thing is happening in online commerce as well.

When we all started on the web 20 years ago, it was a novelty.  There weren’t a lot of sites, and not a lot one could do on the internet anyway so we surfed.  We followed links around from place to place taking it all in much as one wanders around a new neighborhood trying to get acclimated.  In the ensuing decades, that’s changed.  We live our lives on the web, and we do so through many more devices than were possible even 15 years ago.  We’re no longer newcomers to the digital neighborhood.  Which raises a question.

Why does it seem as if many designers are making art instead of commerce?  Why does it seem as if many sites are designed to be lovely interactive experiences but which obfuscate or delay the completion of the task for which the user came to the site in the first place?  Online shopping isn’t a recreational activity in my mind and I know there is research that supports that.  Most people shop or otherwise interact with a purpose.  How many webmasters keep that in mind as they build in splash pages, allow screen overlays to pop up, or otherwise the user’s path to completing the task for which they came?

No one web surfs any more and stops to notice a lovely design.  They surf the tasks which need completing.  There is a side of me that thinks high conversion rates with low time on site is a perfect representation of where we want to be as  consumers get to the places they want to go and act without delay.  What do you think?

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Filed under Consulting, digital media, Reality checks

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