Update: To click or not click, this does not need to be a question

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I talked about the negative impact of social media on my last post. I also asked the question whether this can be improved in some way to help people focus. There probably isn’t a valid solution yet, but there are smart web developers who gave thoughts to this problem and proposed some interesting approach. The innovation of link is just one of the examples that I would like to introduce in this post.

People tend to be unfocused and highly distractible readers when it comes to online content,even if the publication is interesting and eye-catching enough. This phenomenon soon led to a rather simple conclusion: nearly everything on the internet is designed for distraction, especially on social media, where links are structured to lead people away all the time. Everything is carefully thought out to grab your attention. There’s no doubt why your attention span is getting so short over these years — because the platform wants it that way.

According to an article on medium, links contribute to this problem in a unnoticeable way.

People tend to click anything when they see them because that indicates instant gratification. It gives you illusion that you are doing something active effortlessly. The design encourages you to be directed by numerous external links and forget where the original article is.

At De Correspondent, a Dutch journalism startup, web developers want to make some change to this flawed design. Here are three things they propose to do on their online platform and these techniques can easily be applied to social media:

1. Info cards

This piece of additional content is only presented when you have a need for it by clicking on the indicator behind the name or term mentioned in the story.

2. Side notes

It functions as a regular link, but is placed next to the related paragraph and has a label that describes the content that was linked to.

3. Featured links

Featured links are placed underneath the article. Placing them down there ensures enough attention and focus on the reader’s side for the story.

Would you believe this can be an effective way to both convey information and keep readers focus at the same time? Would you want to see the same sort of innovation on other social media or news platforms?

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