Sunday, February 05, 2012

Poor user experience: no one's fault but yours.

"We can't. That's how we've always done it."
"We can't. We would be giving up revenue."
"We can't. [Insert internal group here] won't let us."

The bigger a company gets, the more frequent excuses become a form of social currency. Eighty percent of the time, they directly hinder innovation. Somewhere along the way, breaking the rules turned from a business model to a business stigma.

But here's the thing:
  • There is no excuse for pop-up or pop-under advertisements.
  • There is no excuse for rollover links that trigger ads littering the copy of your publication.
  • There is no excuse for that useless "social engagement" bar that runs on every page of your publication's website. Look at the data -- no one uses it. Just get rid of it.
  • There is absolutely no excuse for autoplaying talking advertisements hiding somewhere on the page. Minus double points for processor-sucking video ads.
How much is reader satisfaction worth to your organization? Quality control for your publication starts with you. The bottom line can't be ignored; that's true. But for every user-hostile experience you allow on your publication's website, you effectively wager that the money is worth more than the reader. And that, my friend, is a race to the bottom.

(Who's waiting at the bottom, you ask? The great Google monster, with a massive bat, ready to bludgeon your publication's SEO with a results-destroying swing.)

That social engagement bar? That autoplaying video ad? Those entirely irrelevant sponsored links? Those horrific Google advertisements that roadblock articles? A daily reminder to all of your readers that you can't say no.

You wouldn't do such things to the front page of your printed product, would you? Why do you allow it online? Find a better business model, before you lose all of the readers who attracted those advertisers in the first place.

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