Human Experience Design - Learning Design

Ten of the most common approaches that alienate online visitors – the second five

… continue of the Ten of the most common approaches that alienate online visitors – the first five

  1. Blocking the screen with ‘helping’ tutorials. There are a lot of ways to help the user set off on a journey, but blocking the screen is not one of them. When I get into a new platform and trying to figure out where to start the clicking, and a popup window closing me out of the platform to teach me how it should be done that’s a patronizing and unwelcome treat. It’s like trying to read the ingredients of a product in a shop while someone is pushing a brochure between me and the item in my hand, saying that this is of more help than what I could figure out by myself. In real life, I would push that brochure away; online, I close the ‘help’ without even taking a look. If it’s not possible, I close the whole platform.
  1. Pouring the content on me all at once. Of course, there are dry information on every page, and sometimes manuals must be included which cannot be displayed in an appealing way. But if someone wants me to eat the soup, then they shouldn’t pour the whole pot on my head. There are tabs, drop-downs, and other expand-collapse content-wrapping options, even the good old pagination. There are reliable statistics out there concerning how much scrolling visitors are willing to suffer through before getting annoyed and closing the page. I can assure you that if the scrollbar at the corner of my eye is shorter then one-third of the screen, I will start by pre-scrolling the page to see if it’s due to the graphics/charts or not. And, if not, I don’t even start to read.
  1. Offering an ‘almost’ free download. Free is free. Meaning that if I click on it, it’s mine. If you ask anything in return, it’s not free anymore, it’s just cheap – maybe. Asking for my email address, for example, may seem like a low price – so low some sites still try to display it as no price – but after hundreds of spam messages coming in daily forcing me to maintain several email addresses to keep at least one clean, it seems like an increasingly high price to pay. Not to mention the ‘Tweet to download plugins,’ none of which have worked for me so far. I have never received a download link after posting the page. So I delete the post and close the page.
  1. Listing a dog as a team member. Funny, of course, and cute, no doubt. But I’m there to figure out if your company is capable of doing the job I have been looking to get done for weeks or months. I’m spending hours to analyse the content and find the anchor points that mark the right partner for me. Showing your dog as an office guard or partner is probably intended to show me that you’re an approachable company that doesn’t take itself too seriously. But what is actually showed that you don’t take me seriously. My hint: when I look for partners, I’m looking for competent, not cute; so, save the dog for the later stages when I’m already convinced about your capabilities and the fun aspects can come into play.
  1. Posting a profile picture with kids, partners, friends. Everyone has a private life, most of us hopefully a happy one. But introducing yourself as a mother/father/party animal … means that you think your biggest selling point is just that. And, if you say so, I have no reason to doubt you. For a partnership, however, I need a professional, one that stands steadily on his/her own feet and dares to show him/herself in a clearly distinguishable way (one face per profile image, I mean).

There are numerous other approaches unintentionally alienating online visitors. Most of them doing so by simple ignoring the very nature of the digital world, i.e., the low and fragile trust. The few items listed above most commonly, and inadvertently, doom relationships with visitors, those very visitors the website owner invests boatloads of money to gain and enormous effort to keep.

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