We’ve commented before on Web users’ impatience. People want to accomplish the task they came for quickly and easily.
Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen illustrated this theme again in his most recent Alertbox. In it, he offers an old medium—broadcast TV—as a contrasting example to the speed of internet navigation. According to him the Web offers a niche experience rather than the broadly shared one of television; an active, multidirectional experience filled with potential distractions rather than a passive, linear one; and content produced cheaply by millions of users rather than expensively by a small number of big corporations.
The most important distinction he draws, though, is in the frequency with which users make decisions. Television watchers make their big decisions at the start of a new show: generally every 30 to 60 minutes. Web surfers make decisions about where to go next every 10 seconds to two minutes. That means it shouldn’t take more than two minutes for the user to finish reading the text on a page or looking at its pictures.
By now, the relentless competition of the Web has for the most part forced writers and designers to make pages that fit this time frame. One exception we still see, though, is in Web video. Organizations still often post lectures or panel discussions of a half hour or more, even though users really only have the patience to watch from two to 10 minutes, according to Nielsen.
So what do you do if you have an hour’s worth of debate? Produce a condensed podcast.