Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Nobody Reads"

I had an interesting conversation with one of my customers recently. While discussing a particular support issue she was complaining that people kept calling despite the instructions being very explicit. I said, "Have you added it to the course description?" to which she replied, "You bet I have. But that's not the issue. The truth is nobody reads!"

My customer had actually honed in on a serious problem that has become more and more apparent with the advent of the Internet. There was a time when when blogs were widely read. These days even that seems to have stopped. Readers simply write TLDR instead - "Too Long Didn't Read"

In fact, there is a Chrome plugin named TLDR which will summarize an article for you into various sizes!

From a technical standpoint, designing a user interface that makes it easy to navigate (without the need to read elaborate instructions) even for the least tech savvy user is a huge challenge. Even when you post an alert on the screen in red text users don't read and prefer to call customer support, leading to huge waste of time and energy for everyone involved. Huge amounts of FAQs, Wikis etc are generated everyday, but the reality is that users just don't have the patience to look through them. It is not surprising when the average attention time span on a website page is less than 6 secs. 

As we move further towards a hyper-connected world filled with mobile devices the attention span is likely to further plummet (especially given the small screen on phones). The challenge to counter this on all fronts is going to be hard no matter what!

p.s: I'll keep this brief lest it ends up in the TLDR category :-)