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Simplicity in web design makes for productive visitors

Food for thought from Internet Psychologist, Graham Jones:  Are we overloading our customers with too much information on our webpages?

“The problem with the average website is that the “busy” nature is off-putting to people because of all the distractions. Even if you do not have flashing banner adverts, there are plenty of regular elements of websites that distract people. That’s partly because most websites have so much to offer that the owners want to be sure that visitors know just how much there is available. But from a psychological perspective this is all rather off-putting.

There are plenty of online distractions in our daily work – such as email alerts or the urgent need to see what our friends are saying on Facebook. These distractions take us away from being productive. Whatever we might think about our ability to “multi-task” the psychological evidence is that we are fooling ourselves. Men and women alike simply cannot focus on more than one task at a time. Multi-tasking distracts us, in the same way that web designs or emails can distract us.

People who only deal with email once or twice a day are significantly more productive than those individuals who constantly check their emails. Several studies confirm this. Similarly, people who only log on to Facebook once a day and who have a routine are more productive and feel better about themselves.

However, new research shows that it is not just major distractions, such as checking your email or logging onto Facebook that are a problem. It turns out that distractions that take as little as 2.8 seconds can have a significant impact on us. The study found that an average of 4.4 seconds of distraction is enough to significantly reduce your accuracy on subsequent tasks.

What this means is that the wide variety of web distractions, such as “web page furniture” is not only wasting our time and making us all less productive, it also suggests that what we do at work is becoming less accurate as a result. That also hits our productivity as we have to go over and repeat our work in order to correct the mistakes.

One way out of this conundrum is to use something like Evernote Clearly which allows you to view web pages, distraction-free.

Perhaps we need to re-think the way websites are designed. Perhaps web pages that look rather like a page of a book, free of distractions, are actually better for us than pages full of potential distractions.

It also means we could increase productivity with better designs for offices, phones that do not ring for more than 2.8 seconds and so on.

Perhaps it is time to look at the whole way we work – we are not being anywhere near as productive as we could be, because our modern way of working provides us with a constant array of distractions for more than a few seconds.”


Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who helps businesses understand how their customers use the web so that they can provide websites that truly and deeply engage people. He is the author of “Click.ology: What Works in Online Shopping”. See grahamjones.co.uk and http://click.ology.biz.

Graham Jones Internet Pschologist

 

 

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