I have never met a man nor woman who can work at the speed of light. As much as i have tried I can’t even come close to breaking the sound barrier. I can only type somewhere in the range of thirty words a minute, forty if I don’t care about spelling and punctuation. So I have come to the realization that I will never work at the speed of the internet. In fact, no one can.
So maybe we shouldn’t think of approaching the internet as something we need to race through. The internet houses a wealth of information and we can either choose the abridged version or the encyclopedic version. Both versions fit our needs and both versions are readily accessible but there is a barrier with the internet that we do not often experience in the print world.
With abundance comes waste. In the online world that waste often comes in the form of irrelevant information for our business needs. If we could create a website that simply had a button labeled “find what i am thinking” we could be millionaires. But, as of this writing, that button does not exist.
So lesson one in navigating the internet is to slow down. We have quickly become scanners of information rather then readers. When we search for information we are often too quick to deem it irrelevant yet we often base this assumption on the first three to five items that are returned to us. We fail to keep in mind that this golden real estate has been either purchased or influenced by sites with large SEO budgets. Take time to read through more then just the top five hits and maybe even think about looking at page two or three of the results before you jump to another query.
When you first approach a web page don’t forget to slow down and take a few extra seconds to look at the whole thing. It is ok to scan but let’s shoot for some more intelligent scanning. Review the navigation, look at the imagery and by all means read some of the content. More and more sites are becoming user centric entities which means that the navigation has often been designed for the end user. This bodes well for those of you that take the time to look through the navigation to understand the content categorization on a site.
Be at peace. The internet can be your friend and the information you seek is out there. Just be patient.
ED. NOTE: Brian Kempf leads the User Experience practice at Kinesis by day and the internet revolution by night.