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Poll: Most Web Content is Crap

More than 88% of Internet users believe they are served poor content on the Web, according to an online poll conducted by Webcopyplus.

When asked to rate the overall quality of content on the Web, poll respondents selected the following options:

  1. Poor 88.5 per cent
  2. Satisfactory 9.8 per cent
  3. Good 1.5 per cent
  4. Excellent 0.2 per cent

A total of 480 Internet users participated in the web writing firm’s online poll during a four-month period that ended in April of 2008.

Subsequent interviews with web users revealed multiple common concerns, including:

  • “It takes too long to find the information I’m looking for.”
  • “I have a high-speed Internet connection, but many websites are too slow to load.”
  • “Confusing menus.”
  • “So many generic pictures that I don’t need to see.”
  • “Busy designs are irritating.”
  • “I don’t like being forced to watch intros or videos.”
  • “The need to download additional software to view a site.”
  • “Too much writing on websites that doesn’t interest or help me.”
  • “Poor writing makes me question a website’s credibility.”
  • “Aggressive sales pitches…don’t tell me to buy; tell me why I should buy from you.”
  • “Small text that’s too hard to read.”
  • “Inadequate contact information.”

Relevancy and Speed Top Concerns

The most common complaint from web users was that it takes too long to find relevant information. There are several contributing factors to this issue, including poorly planned information architecture, and ineffective web writing, designs and images.

Businesses that take the time and resources to arrange website navigation, information and links according to their target audiences’ needs promote positive online experiences. When website visitors get what they desire, tasks get completed and businesses benefit.

The second biggest complaint from Internet users surrounded slow load times. Even with the increasing popularity of high-speed Internet connections (broadband penetration in 2007 according to Internet World Stats: US 21.9%; UK 23.1%; Canada 23.7%), slow-loading web pages continue to be a sore spot for people who research products or services online.

In fact, slow load speeds topped the list in a 2007 Webcopyplus poll, in which 51.2% of users suggested “slow load times” would likely drive them away from a website, over weak web copy (42.2%) and poor visual presentation (6.6%).

Consumers Rule the Web

Websites should be streamlined and optimized – stripped of any unnecessary graphics or web writing. That means designers must put function before form. And web writers must write for the target audience – not for themselves or even their clients.

To be sure, the Internet has come a long way since 1969, when UCLA and Stanford Research Institute relayed the first message over the earliest form of the Internet. But, the fact is, almost nine out of 10 web poll respondents feel they are being under-served.

People no longer look to the Web as a novelty. It’s about task-driven research, not random surfing. Today’s Internet users seek value, not amusement.

The solution is clear: simple, fast-loading and functional websites that offer relevant content.

Perhaps as web technologies mature, the industry will put less emphasis on website mechanics and more on quality content that respectfully caters to the true master of the Web — the consumer.

About the Author

Rick Sloboda, Senior Web Copywriter at Webcopyplus, has been writing for websites since 2001 for some of the world’s largest service providers (Cingular, Scotia Bank, etc.). He speaks frequently at Web-related forums and seminars.

 
 
 
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