Monday, February 22, 2016

What are you still doing with that?

 Not fit for purpose is a widely over- and often misused phrase, but when it comes to much online content online, it's spot often on.

A simple test for this theory is to answer the following question:

  • What is the best format to show numerical comparisons? 
  • What is the best way to demonstrate data? 
  • What is the best way to conduct a four way interview?

If your answer for any or all of the above is to write it down and publish it, then clearly we're not going to agree. Yet as nonsensical as it seems, this remains the number one tactic for a huge amount of external communications material. Sure you trip across the occasional video and well produced graphic, but these are often addendum's to the real thing - the document - and rarely assets that have been conceived and created in their own right.

All of which is increasingly anachronistic in a world where content is consumed on brightly back lit devices that fit neatly into an average hand. Even my local train company insists on still publishing its timetables on a pdf via its app. Brilliantly unhelpful, but extremely convenient for them, as that's how they've been doing things ever since they bought a PC in 1988 and discovered Desktop Publishing.

While the world has moved on, most organisations have not. Even their employees have evolved further in the past 15 years then they have - just look at the following:

  • Our attention span is now less than that of a goldfish (8.25 seconds in 2015, down from 12 seconds in 2000)
  • People read  less than half of the words on a web page – even when there’s only 111 words or less
  • Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text - Imagery gets 67% more attention as a result
  • Videos increase people’s understanding by 74% compared to text

This of course only reflects what we suspect - and if you've ever asked your users or looked at a metrics report - already know.

PwC put this theory to the test last year when creating its Annual Report. Previously, this had always been a traditional print document that had subsequently been dismantled and then reconfigured online.

Rather than a single document it was launched as 40 pieces of content including videos, infographics, animations and a data explorer. All of which were individually shareable and pre-loaded on to social channels.

It wasn't a contest.

There was more social sharing in a week than the whole of the previous year and surpassed most obvious milestones, page views, visits etc within weeks. Good content, produced in the right way, finds its audience, now more than ever. There really is no excuse to continue to get this wrong.

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