Friday, May 1, 2009

The engaged reader

I was at my neighbour's. Their seven-year old boy came out of the room, put on his going-out chappals, and was turning the door-lock to open the door and go out when his mother said, "Why are you going out? Should you not be studying for your English test tomorrow?" The boy replied, "There is no more space in my brain."

We live in an era of information overload, the just-google overload. And, because everyone can write (!), we also live with community-contributed growliths such as Wikipedia. Here's a picture of a Wikipedia page that is trying to tell you what Twitter is about:

Noticed the excessive linking? There's a hyperlink in almost every sentence. Most of the time, the hyperlinked words have no relation whatsoever to the task at hand (which is, explaining what Twitter is about). Here are the superfluous links:

But just because the information is there - somewhere - on the Web, it HAS to be linked. ! @ # $ % And never mind the distraction - or the possibility of the reader clicking such a link and navigating away from the page and on to a (duh!) competitor's page (like, Facebook). The reader would be walking away from the page, declaring there's no more space in the brain. But hey, wait, was it not your goal to engage the reader?

Here is a screenshot of something that resisted the urge to overlink, and succeeded in keeping the reader focussed.
Noticed the immense possibilities of linking this paragraph provides? Almost every bullet point screams "Go, Go, Go". But because there's no clickable door to leave, the reader stays on the page. Engaged.


NidhiK said...

Hi Anindita,

The topics that you have taken up in your blogs are very pertinent.I really like your writing style, very clear and innovative.


Anindita said...

Thank you, Nidhi :)