(this was first published on Medium, but kept here for future reference. Also, I know how to use bullet points here)
I remember the first time I used the web. I found these weird things that were words that were underlined. When I activated them, I went to a place that has content related to that word. I liked that. It meant that I didn’t have to disconnect, re-dial another number and connect there to get other content. It was interlinked content using a very simple tool.
My actions were rewarded. I clicked a link about kittens and I got information about kittens. I entered “what is the difference between an Indian and African elephant” in a search box, hit enter and got the information I needed after following another one of those underlined things.
Then the bad guys came. They wanted you to go where you didn’t plan to go and show you things you weren’t interested in but they got paid for showing you. This is how we got pop-ups, pop-unders, interstitials and in the worst case phishing sites.
Bad guys make links and submit buttons do things they were not meant to do. They give you something else than the thing you came for. They don’t reward you for your actions. They distract, redirect, misdirect and monitor you.
Fast forward to now. Browsers have popup blockers and malware filters. They tell you when a link looks dodgy. This is great.
However, the behaviour of the bad guys seems to become a modus operandi of good guys, too. Those who don’t think about me, but about their own needs and wants first.
More and more I find myself activating a link, submitting a form or even typing in a URL and I don’t get what I want. Instead I get all kind of nonsense I didn’t come for:
- Please download our app
- Please do other actions on our site
- Please do these tasks that are super important to us but not related to what you are doing right now
- Please use a different browser/resolution/device/religion/creed/gender
Granted, the latter is a bit over the top, but they all boil down to one thing:
You care more about yourself and bolstering some numbers you measure than about me, your user.
And this annoys me. Don’t do that. Be the good person that shows behind links and actions the stuff people came for. Show that first and foremost and in a very simple fashion. Then show some other things. I am much more likely to interact more with your product when I had a good experience than when I feel badgered by it to do more without ever reaching what I came for.
You want an example? OK. Here’s looking at you LinkedIn. I get an email from someone interesting who wants to connect with me. The job title is truncated, the company not named. Alright then — I touch the button in the email, the LinkedIn app pops up and I get the same shortened title of that person and still no company name. It needs another tap, a long spinner and loading to get that. I connect. Wahey.
Five minutes later, I think that I might as well say hi to that person. I go to the LinkedIn app, to “connections” and I’d expect new connections there, right? Wrong. I get a “People you may know” and a list of connections that has nothing to do with my last actions or new contacts. Frankly I don’t know why I see these people.
I understand you want me to interact with your product. Then let me interact. Don’t send me down a rabbit hole. Make my clicks count. Then I send you all my love and I am very happy to pay for your products.
You don’t lose users because you don’t tell them enough about other cool features you have. You lose them because you confuse them. Reward my actions and we can work together!