The Web Is For Four-year-olds

If you are reading this blog you are probably at least reasonably web savvy and use or know of services like Twitter and Flickr. You probably know what RSS is and how and why you might want to use it. Sometimes we forget that not everyone is as cool and knowledgeable as us. There are a large number of people who are completely at sea on the Internet and even think Google is the Internet. These are the sort of people who search for web addresses, (even their own site) via Google rather than typing them into the address bar.

We do however share one thing in common — we all tend to surf the web like we are four years old.

If it doesn’t load fast, instantly engage us and keep us engaged, then we get bored and move on — a trait that has been exacerbated by tabbed browsing.

With the shear enormity of the web and all the cool, quirky and interesting things we could be finding, we don’t tend to spend the time finding out about what a web site can offer us. If it’s not slap-you-in-the-face obvious then, Next, off we go — unlikely ever to return. We just love new stuff. What’s the latest and greatest?

Digg, the former king of all that is new and shiny on the Web is now apparently becoming old hat. It has been overtaken by the newer and shinier Yahoo! Buzz.

But, What happens to Digg? and what happens to Yahoo! Buzz when the tarnish sets in there too? Honestly, do we care? We just want something new — chocolate cake and jelly; the Wiggles video; Can I shave the cat Mum? Oh, go on. Pleeeeeease.

To survive on the Web, we need to think like four year olds too. What is consistently wanted and loved by your average four year old?

That favorite cuddly toy — you know the one: one eyed, drooled over, thoroughly loved and must go absolutely everywhere with them. The best sites and applications must be like that cuddly toy — a dear friend, who understands us and who is there for us.

But, maybe without the drool. TTFN.

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  • dunkley

    If it doesn’t load fast, instantly engage us and keep us engaged, then we get bored and move on — a trait that has been exacerbated by tabbed browsing.

    I have no evidence to back this, but I believe that tabbed browsing has increased user’s patience because they have the option of opening the tab up in a new background window. This allows them to wait for that page to load in the background.

  • zuneone

    I know someone who uses IE7 with the built in search bar, ignores that and goes to the yahoo home page to get to the search box where she types google.com to get to google search.

    I am not kidding… she is in financial services in a pretty high position too.

  • http://www.sitepoint.com/ mmj

    I have no evidence to back this, but I believe that tabbed browsing has increased user’s patience because they have the option of opening the tab up in a new background window. This allows them to wait for that page to load in the background.

    That would also mean that each page that is open receives even less attention from the user, as he can only look at one tab at a time. Also, there is less barrier to navigating away if you get bored, because simply closing the current tab instantly moves to the next thing that was opened.

    I too would be interested in any actual study that has measured this.

  • Ian

    This topic (and the responsese to it) touche on a lot of things that have bugged me for a long time. I don’t know the answers. I only found the same questions here.

    It’s a start. I was reading on, looking for the rest of the article. What does this mean to us as web professionals? It just seems like the introduction.

    This article stops a long way short of providing usable information. It’s just defined the problem. If you’ve been involved with clients with web sites, you know this already. It begs the questions….

    With this knowlede;
    What do we do about it?
    How can we help ourselves and our clients?

    Awareness is the first step. Dealing with it intelligently is the next. Any ideas?

    I know someone who uses IE7 with the built in search bar, ignores that and goes to the yahoo home page to get to the search box where she types google.com to get to google search.

    I am not kidding… she is in financial services in a pretty high position too.

    Yep, I’ve seen stuff like this too, we all have. It’s pretty frustrating to watch and sit through, but it’s important do so, and then to understand your client.

    These people are our clients and user base and financial masters. Just because we’re web and techno savvy, it does not mean our clients are. They’re paying the bills. It’s a valuable lesson to observe.

    Sometimes our clients, the CEO and CFO, are not as savvy as our users.

    Some more questions.
    1. How can we sell concepts like RSS, Twitter, Digg, Yahoo! Buzz, all with potential productivity benefits, to a client that can barely use a search engine.

    2. How can we sell web site concepts to a key project stakeholder, when the user base is much more web savvy than they are?

    3. What happens to the site after the implementation project is complete, and we walk away? Have they the skills to understand and maintain the concepts of the system we have provided them with?

  • seba

    This is one of the single articles here i totally agree with.