January 26, 2018

by Nigel Hollis

OK, I admit it. Every now and again I talk to myself, usually under moments of stress or excitement. And it occurs to me that with the advent of voice-first technologies digital designers, advertisers and researchers could get a whole new set of insights into how people experience their content. Of course, they might not always like to listen to what people say.

I like to believe that talking to myself is not a sign of madness, but rather a quality shared with Gandalf the Gray who claimed it was a habit of the old who chose to speak to the wisest person present (but then that is not a difficult choice when you are working on your own). Unfortunately I cannot say that I share Gandalf’s longevity or his ability to set things on fire, otherwise there might be a lot of people out there who feel their ears burning right now.

Like many I spent my holiday season doing a little online research and shopping. The experience evoked more than a few expletives. When searching for subjects as diverse as wi-fi enabled plugs, water-to-water heat exchangers and Prague Powder (google it if you must) I encountered a number of really irritating cases of businesses putting their needs ahead of those of their customers.

The following are my top three F-bomb triggering tactics and I thought you might like to add a few more in the spirit of co-creation.

1.      Requests to sign up for the site’s email newsletter before you have even read anything. This has to be the most stupid and common tactic out there. Never mind the interruptive nature of the tactic, are you seriously telling me that anyone is going to sign up without figuring out whether the site is of interest to them or not?

2.      Requests to complete a survey before you have spent more than a second or two on the site. I can only assume that this is an attempt to create a control cell to compare to people who have had time to experience the site. I suppose it is one way to guarantee good results. Oh look, people who spent time on the site were more satisfied than the ones irritated by our irrelevant survey request.

3.      Autoplay ads with the sound enabled. No matter what the person who sold you ad format claimed these are simply a bad idea. My immediate response to sound on auto play is to leave the site. It is not even worth looking to the mute or pause button, there is always an alternative out there.

These are such obviously annoying tactics that I do not think research is required to figure it out, but there are lots of less obvious examples where a little consumer feedback might have improved the user experience. For instance, all sites seem to assume that the visitor knows for what they are looking and has the uncanny ability to anticipate what the site has called a specific product. Or is that just me?

I was going to add clickbait titles the next item on the list, but maybe you have some different F-bomb irritants in mind?

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