We live in an interesting time in our society. We have more ways of communication than ever before. We can share every moment of our lives with complete strangers at a whim. It is the modern day, digital version of trapping visitors into watching your home movies. Many of our younger readers probably don’t know what I am talking about, but let’s move on anyway.
As a disclaimer, I make a good portion of my living working with businesses to improve their online presence. The three topics I am about to discuss are often seen as great methods or devices for businesses to communicate ideas to their prospective customers. Plus, many of my peers in the industry will no doubt balk at the opinions I am about to put forth. However, they are just that… opinions. You can take it or leave it, but if we can’t discuss these matters, then they will continue to progress whether they are valid or not. So here we go…
Clickbait is basically just using a provocative title or photo in an article in order to get people to click through to the article. The article often has little or nothing to do with the title. The goal of clickbait is simply to get you to click through and hopefully subscribe to a list or buy something.
Wikipedia defines clickbait as “… a pejorative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines or eye-catching thumbnail pictures to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks. Clickbait headlines typically aim to exploit the “curiosity gap”, providing just enough information to make the reader curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content.”
Now, most of us will agree that this is not the best method of attracting customers. It is the modern day version of “Bait and Switch” where a customer is lured in by a product with a low price and then is pressured into buying a much higher priced product instead. Unfortunately, it works a lot of the time.
This technique is used a lot and it must work for those businesses, because you see it more and more often every day. Just because it works, does not make it acceptable. This is the same thing that can be said of spam email message and I doubt you will find many people who will agree that spam is a trustworthy form of sales.
Okay, this one is a bit tougher to talk about, since there are a great many studies that point to the effectiveness of using infographics. What is an infographic? I’m glad you asked.
An infographic or information graphic is just what it sounds like. It is a graphical or visual image that contains data on a topic in a format that is supposedly easy to understand. They are kind of like a flow chart on steroids. If you want to learn more, there are tons of examples on Google.
Infographics are said to appeal to our short attention spans versus reading a lot of information. If that is true of you, then you probably did not get this far in this article, so take a break and go browse through your social media feeds.
In theory, I like infographics. We all want to absorb as much information as we can in a short amount of time. However, the practice of using Infographics is where I run into a problem.
As we become more dependent on our mobile devices as a method for accessing information, it becomes difficult to find a way to maximize the use of an infographic. There are just too many difficulties in making a graphic that is easily viewable on a small screen. Sure you can zoom in on the image, but you end up moving the image around to see it all and it suddenly loses is cohesiveness. The information becomes less fluid and harder to understand.
There is also the “big thumb” syndrome that comes into play. If you are like me, then you will invariably end up tapping at the wrong spot or time and find yourself on a completely different web site. Then you have to hit the back button and wait for the page to load all over again.
This is the same issue I have with our third topic.
Slide shows are a popular way to display information on websites, these days. You will see the headline with something like “The 10 Best Programs for Keeping You Organized”. The article will contain a slide show or a series of photos with a brief discussion of each product or topic. In order to get from the first slide’s information, you need to click on the arrow that points to the right or use the next button.
Again, this is great in theory and I like these types of articles when I am reading them on my desktop computer monitor. When I have to view one on my smartphone, however, it becomes a study in futility. It is almost impossible to navigate from one screen to the next without skipping a screen or exiting the article altogether.
When I find one of these articles while reading on my phone, I always tell myself that I will come back and view it later on a desktop, but that rarely ever happens. The answer would be for the sites who use these slide shows to offer an alternative form of the content to the viewer, but this is rarely ever the case. If we forget about mobile users, we do so at our own peril!
I know that it is not likely that these three trends are going to change in the near future, but I hope that maybe we can find an alternate method for sharing information that is a little more functional and helpful. I may be alone in these opinions, but that is a chance I am willing to take.
In the meantime, let me know if you want to come over and watch home movies of our trip to the beach. I can get the projector out and set up the movie screen anytime.