Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Scan

Why web pages are longer? Why we see different stories on news websites which aren't always news?  If you are unaware of this then observe news websites like CNN.com, Huffingtonpost.com.  They are getting longer and longer, filled with everything.  Previously if you wanted to find any news on any particular section say sports or technology, you would go to sports section or technology tab.  Whereas now it is all embedded into one page.

In addition to that now you will find hardly any news on a news website interesting.  People visit a website and just scan through links.  If any words interest them then they will click other wise they will leave.  Before a news (or breaking news they call it) will appear on the homepage only if it is actually news.  Now everything is there on one plate.  Are they trying to overwhelm you or annoy you or make you feel guilty of so much information?  May be or may be not.  May be it is not intentional.  It is just how the culture is changing.   The culture of a web surfers.

I call it "The Scanning Culture".   It is very hard for this generation to focus on.  The scan is running on everything and continuously.  Part of this is to be blamed on the social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and even blogging sites.  And part of it is to be blamed on search engines like Google.   If you were to find any information then you know that everything Google gives is not worth and you have to search multiple sites to find out the best.  Google introduced the scavenger hunt for information and people started hunting until they find anything interesting.

Due to this, scroll button on your computer mouse was rolled more frequently.  Roll click, roll click, click click and out.  But Twitter and Facebook started a river of activity updates from everyone, not just your friends but brands and news sites.  People's attention was now at its riskiest point.  On top of it the killer product launch ever was the iphone by Apple.  The always online generation was born and with that they were able to go on hunting whenever they wanted.  They got less interested in the prime time shows and news hour on Television. A recent study shows that Television ratings are at its lowest due to mobile devices.

The scroll button is used maximum.  An average news is of no more interest to this generation.  This generation is just scanning for words.  News website literally make a point to have few stories which are trending topics on Twitter, Youtube or Facebook.  Attention span of this generation is the shortest ever in the history of man kind.  And websites are clueless has to which stories (not news) will an online user click.  So they tend to put everything.  Users scan maximum to see on the main page and digging deeper into different pages is decreasing.  Hence everything is served to us on one long page. 

Why people find it less interesting reading and more interesting in watching?  Why long new stories are not read extensively whereas short updates are of more interest?  The scan is going to increase and become more and more evident because the average amount of information on the web is exploding and to find the best one you will have to start searching and scanning faster. 

This is the 200th post in 2010 of Journey blog and if you are fan of Journey blog on Facebook and a regular reader then you can win a $10 Chipotle gift card.  Leave your comments here