The chances are you want me to get on with this blog post; after all, you are busy, you have lots to do and there is an increasingly overwhelming amount of information to face each day. One of the problems with the information explosion is that it makes us feel under more pressure to “get on”. The result is that we feel as though we have even less time than we actually do have. There is plenty of research which confirms that the more you are faced with each day, the more you feel time rushing by. That then leads to you giving the information you receive only a cursory glance, because you “have to get on” and read the next set of material coming your way.
That’s easy to say, of course, but not so easy to do….after all, you have “millions of things” to get through; there’s no time to relax…!
One of the problems of rushing through the information overload is poor decision-making. Another issue is the fact that we so easily misinterpret information because we do not have enough thinking time left any more. And for anyone running a business website there is another problem.
People rush through your website, missing those “buying signals” you have so carefully prepared. No matter how hard you try, unless you are a major brand which can spend millions on promotion, you just can’t get enough people interested in what you do. And that’s because they are rushing past your content so quickly they cannot really attend to it or make decisions about it. The result is fewer sales than you would like and a general lack of engagement.
There must be something you can do….? Luckily, new research on how we perceive time has come to the rescue. Researchers at Stanford University have just conducted three different experiments on the concept of “awe” and how it affects our perception of time. Something that is “awesome” gives a sense of vastness, of wonderment and of being generally amazed by it. In one of the experiments, all that people had to do was read a story about looking over Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Then they had to complete a simple task. Compared with people who read a similar story about going up an unnamed tower and seeing a plain aerial shot, the people with the Eiffel Tower story had an increased sense of “being in the present”, of peacefulness and happiness. Similar experiments which provided other ways of a sense of awe found that when people felt wonderment and peacefulness they tended also to feel happier and have a better appreciation of time.
You have surely felt this yourself when you have been on holiday or you have been to an awesome event. Your sense of time changes and you feel more peaceful and generally happier.
So why don’t we feel like that online? The problem is far too many websites (including this one) give you a sense of time rushing past – read this, look at that, here’s something else you should read. That just contributes to our need to “get on” and so we miss all those buying signals.
Instead, if websites created a sense of awe, giving us the feeling of wonderment of space and of being somewhat relaxed, then there is a chance we will linger longer. Oh, now remind me, isn’t that rather how the Apple website appears?
- Awe therapy could ‘improve our mental health and make us nicer’ (independent.co.uk)
- Jaw-dropping moments really do make time appear to stand still (telegraph.co.uk)
- Pressed for Time? Take a Minute to Feel Awe (livescience.com)
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+