Leadership

Respecting Your Email Newsletter Readers' Time

7 comments
Prefbid II
Prefbid II

You are right on target. A couple of years ago I thought I would try one of the electronic magazine delivery services. What a waste of time that turned out to be. The idea was that I would download the whole magazine every week and then use a special "reader" to browse the pages. Turns out it was a really bad idea. The e-magazine looked just like the paper version -- including annoying inserts. You have to click on each page to "flip" the pages. certain areas of the paper would automagnify depending on how you moved the cursor. But because the layout was controlled by someone who designed it for paper printing, there was little done to take advantage of the screen dimensions that I have to work through. It was like reading a newspaper where you were required to refold the paper into a 12x14 square each time you wanted to shift a column, continue an article, or find something of interest. Compared to reading a paper version, I read faster on paper, I flip pages faster on paper, I can move from the top to the bottom of the page faster on paper, I can find the articles that interest me faster on paper. The only advantage that I found with electronic delivery is that I don't have to throw the paper away. I understand their motivation. I don't understand what I was supposed to get out of it. Ergo, I stopped reading it.

Justin James
Justin James

I can get through a 1,000 page novel in a long sitting if I put my mind to it. Even when pressed for time, I got though Shogun in under a week, which was a hefty 1,400+ pages if I recall. I read at a small fraction of that speed on a screen. Even worse, my eyes tend to want to skip ahead and I miss a LOT. One thing that makes a world of difference is footnotes vs. end notes. A Web page in particular will use endnotes. A lot of academic/research/thesis type print items use footnotes. I rarely read endnotes because of the hassle of flipping back and forth. I always ready footnotes. It makes the difference between knowing something inside and out, and only having the main thrust of the text understood. Computers are great at search and for linking bits together. But you are right, the worst is someone trying to replicate print on a screen. It never works! You end up with the worst aspects of both mediums mixed into one. J.Ja

LockAndKey2
LockAndKey2

I would argue that many developers (and marketers, and management) would rather push a new 'cute' feature (RSS) to the website rather than think about what their users really need. That would require understanding the business. ;) I like emails that I can subscribe to that allow ME to customize what I want to read about. I.e. If I'm on a consumer electronics website, the emails I want to read are about big screen TV's, but I don't currently care about surround sound.

DanLM
DanLM

I have to ask others to help with colors, but no matter what web page I have ever worked on. I spent more time with navigation then anything else. Why, because I can't stand hunting for crap on a web page. Want to see me leave quick, incoherent navigation will do it. I gave up on trying to make a page all tech snazzy. Cut to the chase, keep it simple with nothing but what they are there for in an easily readable fashion. Then I ask someone else to do the color coordination, what I think are good colors nobody else agrees with. Dan

oarf
oarf

We are working on improving our user's experience by addressing several areas - consistent navigation, logical (to the user) locations to find the info, user-friendly names (non-tech jargon) for the info, user trust that info is current. It adds insult to injury to make the user search vigorously for what they need, only to find obviously incomplete and/or out-of-date information.

Justin James
Justin James

Bad navigation will drive me away from a site faster than anything else. Developers and marketing teams need to start treating their email newsletters as an extension of their home page and design accordingly, as opposed to the table of contents of a 500 page magazine. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

What do you do to make your Web site as friendly to the users' time as possible? J.Ja