Impatience rules the day online

Web users are becoming increasingly impatient, according to the web usability expert Jakob Nielsen. Apparently, we spend much less time waiting for pages to load and to find out what they are about. If it’s not an “instant” message, we move on.

Well, apart from the fact that Jakob Nielsen’s own web site is, how do I put this politely, unusable and completely non “instant” in terms of what it is about, he does have a point. More than ever before, people want to know “what is this web page about?”. They need to see that in a fraction of a second. You don’t see that with Nielsen’s own site, for instance, in spite of his research which shows that users expect instant gratification.

Few business web sites achieve this. They often provide a general summary and navigation which is difficult to penetrate. There is often some kind of company history on the front page and few obvious ways in which the visitor’s issue is solved.

Nowadays, people are looking for instant solutions to specific problems. That means, for instance, that you can no longer have a web site that covers your topic of, say, marketing. Instead, you are going to need specific pages or sites that cover things like, “how to get more interest in postcard marketing in London”. In other words, your web site offerings are going to have to be very, very specific.

Gone are the days of looking for millions of visitors to your web site. You now have to think of having millions of pages that target individual users. It is a complete reverse of where most businesses currently sit in terms of thinking. Most business web sites are being put together with the principles learned on the web in the late 1990s and the early years of this Century. Web users, though, have moved on. It’s time for businesses to catch up.

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