Tag Archives: User interface

Not As Pretty As A Picture

I used to have an occasional disagreement with a few of our sports TV producers back in the day. They were often reluctant to include certain sponsor things in the program, whether it was signage, a sponsored feature or adjusting the graphics to be sure the sponsor’s name and logo were a bit more prominent. Their complaint had to do with the aesthetics of the program and I certainly respected their point of view. That didn’t, however, prevent from reminding them that we were a commercial television entity and our jobs were to make commerce, not art.

I was reminded of that as I read some data on the importance of user experience. Clutch and Brave UX conducted a study of heavy Internet users – defined as those who use the Web for 4+ hours per day – to get a glimpse into how these Internet users interpret the user experience  of popular websites. They asked about why people use the sites and how user-friendly the sites were. What they found is interesting although not particularly surprising.

In response to a question about how important certain factors are in the decision to keep using the site, the top factor was the site’s content. 94% said that they kept using the site because they found the content valuable. Right behind it, however, was the site’s ease of use. 93% of users cited that as important. Far fewer – 66% – cited how the site looked (the website is beautiful or attractive). It’s a good reminder that we’re making commerce and not art. A pretty website that’s unusable is a waste of money. Moreover, in my mind, a site that’s not designed with a great analytics implementation behind the world-class user experience is also a waste.

I’ve had clients who have spent hundred of thousands of dollars on a great looking site that’s fairly useless from a business perspective. Purchase funnels that can’t be tracked properly, no site search and the use of multiple subdomains were all wrapped in a gorgeous – but useless – package. We don’t need everything to be pretty as a picture. We need it to be valuable content presented in a highly usable manner, one that can be measured and improved upon. Make sense?

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2020?

The latest bit from the respected Pew/Internet study is out.  It’s long (138 pages) but contains some interesting nuggets:

  • The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the Internet for most people in the world in 2020.  I still don’t know why we think of mobile devices as phones that compute.  They’re really little computers that have voice capability, as does your PC if you have a mic and Skype.
  • The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness.  More on this below.
  • Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the Internet will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020.  Umm – maybe even by 2010?  Seen that new iPhone thing, folks?
  • Those working to enforce intellectual property law and copyright protection will remain in a continuing “arms race,” with the “crackers” who will find ways to copy and share content without payment.  I’ve been on the “enforcer” side and it’s a losing battle, believe me.  All the music industry did for 10 years was destroy itself and the fact that they finally have a digital business model of sorts isn’t helping.  We need to think about better models, not imposing old ones.
  • The divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who’s connected, and the results will be mixed in terms of social relations.

Sadly, 55% disagreed with the following:

Social tolerance has advanced significantly due in great part to the Internet.
In 2020, people are more tolerant than they are today, thanks to wider exposure to others and their views that has been brought about by the Internet and other information and communication technologies. The greater tolerance shows up in several metrics, including declining levels of violence, lower levels of sectarian strife, and reduced incidence of overt acts of bigotry and hate crimes.

Not a very optimistic point of view and I, for one, think that the next few years here will change “the experts'” thinking on this.   Not only is it good when people have differing points of view but also that they express them.  I’m not so Pollyanna-ish to believe that everyone will meet in the middle one day but I do think people can learn to coexist peacefully even if they don’t agree with their neighbors on everything.

What do you think?  Before you answer, think BACK 10 years to the digital world.  Would you have believed we’d be where we are today?

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