Key Behaviors of Mobile & Web Users Part I

There are times that I feel I suffer from mild ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), especially when I’m navigating through Chrome on my smart phone or browsing for something in my tablet or laptop. Does the following symptoms ring a bell? Be easily distracted, miss details, frequently switch from one activity to another, become bored easily, struggle to focus & follow instructions, etc. Many would say that this is a common behavior of users of digital devices or websites—I strongly agree. I’m not saying we suffer from ADD literally but let’s ponder on our own behaviors in using our personal devices for a moment. In our industry of design, why is this so important to be aware of? Does this affect our design choices during a project? Does it relate to our industry catch-phrase & philosophy of being User-centric & content-centric? Let’s review:

Why so hyper? What’s the rush?

Quickly checking costs of fights, or checking the box scores of a football game while we’re hailing a cab or meeting someone at the cafe—wouldn’t you say this is now a common reality for most people? We are definitely on the move when we connect to the net, which means less time, which means we’re giving it 3-4 seconds before we swipe to another site for what we are wanting to get that moment. Yes, we are hyper-impatient, we are target-specific, and we are ruthless in bouncing out and seek another source of content, no apologies required.

Reading? Who does that?

We scan we’re connected and filter out relevant from the irrelevant quickly. When we do have the content we want, we still don’t read most things on the web-page. This is how we operate as we’re always on the move, constantly trigger-happy for that swipe or click off the site. We scan and keep scanning for more until need to jump to another task.

We get a pass 100% of the time- Blame it on society of the digital age

Call it a blessing or a curse, we are living in the age of digital consumption where we can pull rich data of almost anything quite easily when & wherever we are. We prefer Youtube over terrestrial television, we seek & pull content on a daily basis. There are literally hordes and hordes of distractions with senseless content out there to filter through —to get what we are looking for. We are highly skillful at searching, bouncing from, and scanning for the content we want at that time and at the devices we want to view it from. Our ADD in the digital realm is widely accepted and continually enabled through a web of providers.

What does this all mean for design?

Design more than ever needs to make users feel in control, simple, fast, responsive to our behaviors. Allowing users to make mistakes, forget things, and be forgiving to fix the mistakes by themselves intuitively & easily would be a key success factor for our projects. As far as content goes, certainly it makes you think next time you want to sit down and write the next “Old Man & the Sea”. It needs to be catchy, sexy, funny, and quick & easy to digest —ok there will be exceptions to this as would be for everything. But I think being content-centric & user-centric comes with first understanding the User’s habits & behaviors. In this case, our chronic ADD conditions in the web have no cure in the near foreseeable future, nor do we want one.

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