Information overload, news fatigue and WADD (Web Attention Deficit Disorder) are creating a brutal landscape on the Internet."Web users are getting more ruthless and selfish when they go online", the BBC states in a review of a Jakob Nielsen report on web habits. "Instead of dawdling on websites many users want simply to reach a site quickly, complete a task and leave." Many organizations' websites are out-of-sync with their customers. Marketers think flashy graphics of smiling faces attract customers on the Web. Showing a smiling face to a typical web customer is like showing a crucifix to a vampire. Communicators have gone mad on the Web; publishing press releases and thinking people will actually read them. News is being devalued because huge quantities of trivia and vanity are being labeled as news. A study of young people's news habits found that, "news fatigue brought many of the participants to a learned helplessness response. The more overwhelmed or unsatisfied they were, the less effort they were willing to put in." Time is everything on the Web. "Auctions were once a pillar of e-commerce," a Business Week article states. "People didn't simply shop on eBay. They hunted, they fought, they sweated, they won. These days, consumers are less enamored of the hassle of auctions, preferring to buy stuff quickly at a fixed price." The emergence of the impatient, unforgiving customer has been gathering pace for many years. Back in 2006 a study by Akami found that 75% of people would not go back to a website that took more than 4 seconds to load. It used to be that people would wait for 8 seconds. In 2008, how many seconds will they wait? As many as 50 percent of people bail out after a quick glance of a webpage, another 2006 report stated. Back then you had 4 seconds to convince people that you had something useful to offer. They might read about 15 words before making that decision. "If your copy targets multiple demographics, those 15 words will not work," the MarketingSherpa report stated. "Don't construct a page to appeal broadly across a wide variety of "typical" users. It won't appeal to anyone at all and your conversions will suffer." Over 40 percent of people click on the first search result. Over 60 percent click within the first 3 results, and over 90 percent click within the first 10 results. (More people have been on top of Mount Everest than have been to the 1,000th search result. Does it even exist?) I was told of a study where the first and second search result were swapped for a selection of searches. The new "first" result kept getting more clicks. So, what we're dealing with is a customer who clicks first and asks questions later. It's a customer with their finger on the Back button. "About half of all people who visit a commercial website intending to buy something give up because, above all, they are confused--by product descriptions, navigation and checkout procedures," a Newsweek article stated in July 2008. Think about that: half the customers who come to websites wanting to buy things leave without spending anything. How frustrating is that?

About the Author

Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994. Read more Gerry McGovern articles.