Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why users don’t read instructions

Sometimes I wonder why I’m such a lazy web user – skimming around web sites, waiting for the words / answers I really need to leap out a smack me in the face (kind of the whole premise on which www.stackoverflow.com was built really)

Then I see pages like this…

Instructions

I think to myself, “instructions – should probably read that to avoid some frustration down the track when something goes wrong…” So I start reading…

“Instructions!? Hmmph!” This is nothing more than an advertisement. Words I’d already seen on the previous page when I decided to download Visual Studio in the first place.

With conditioning like this on every second web page (or even software product), is it any wonder we are a generation of attention deficient web surfers who continue to subconsciously ignore paragraphs with the heading, “Instructions”?

We need to build credibility with our users by thinking about the information we present, making it useful, or leaving it out. Less is better! Not only that, but when you do provide some text on a page (or message box) they’ll subconsciously take you seriously, because they haven’t been blastered with useless drivel and already be conditioned to just keep clicking.