Culture

Digging for what I want.

Last Updated on August 11, 2016

I was digging. Digging, and digging, and digging. My wife’s purse seemed like a bottomless pit. I just wanted her car keys — but instead I got everything else. As my level of frustration rose, I finally found what I needed. Suddenly I understood how Indiana Jones must have felt when he found the lost ark. But the feelings of relief and happiness were quickly replaced by more frustration when I realized that the key chain had a clip on it. The clip could have been easily hooked to the purse strap, making it so much easier to find them. But instead, they were buried.
One crazy web user.
Just as my wife’s keys were buried in her purse, so is a lot of content on websites. Potential customers are visiting sites looking for specific content, but website owners are failing them. Sometimes it’s by accident. Other times, it’s intentional. Whether an organization’s website is small or massive, its primary purpose is to provide what the user wants.
This role can be distorted by some of the following methods:
  • No real hierarchy of page content
  • Too many distractions, like social media links, multiple levels of navigation, ads, and other features
  • Too much content
  • No clear path for the user to follow
  • Deceptive paths that coerce the user in a certain direction

The last method, providing deceptive paths for the user, should be avoided altogether. My recent experience at LiveScience.com is a great example. Skimming an article about the worst baby names, I saw that the content talked about a list of these names — but I didn’t see any list. Eventually I saw the link buried in a paragraph, and had to click to get the content I wanted. Why did they put the list on another page? Why did they deceive me into reading content I wasn’t interested in? I’m not sure. Maybe it had to do with the ads they were serving up, or the amount of social media content they were presenting in the right column of the layout. Whatever their reason, they chose to set up a deceptive path for me — and it wasn’t an enjoyable user experience.

My advice to organizations is simple: give the users what they want. The more a potential customer has to work for something, the more likely they will leave dissatisfied.