Removing the Digital Content Barriers

March 8, 2013
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As a software developer, I always used to joke that our jobs would have been easier were it not for the users. Computer users are a demanding bunch these days; they click things they’re not supposed to, have to be continually coalesced into line and we have to reprimand their behaviour with warning messages when they do something wrong. Yet despite all this, for all the digital media you produce, they are still your content consumers.

As a software developer, I always used to joke that our jobs would have been easier were it not for the users. Computer users are a demanding bunch these days; they click things they’re not supposed to, have to be continually coalesced into line and we have to reprimand their behaviour with warning messages when they do something wrong. Yet despite all this, for all the digital media you produce, they are still your content consumers.

ImageImagine if all websites had a legal requirement that they had to be delivered with instruction manuals to show how to operate them. Would people read it? Not a chance, which is why a whole industry around user experience and usability exists. Even when users are faced with a relatively complicated, first-time task, such as booking a flight on a website for example, they absolutely have to be able to do it as quickly and as hassle-free as possible. Anything that stands in their way counts as a bad experience, thereby losing customers and money.

What this approach boils down to is when preparing any kind of digital media for consumption, you cannot put any barriers in the way to hinder their progress. In healthcare, we’re obviously bound by valid legal requirements to ensure only the right people see the right information, but if managed correctly they should not restrict your customers from getting to the content that they need to.

There are a few sites that use codes or other logins to verify the user and who they work for. There is little doubt they are secure in this respect, and satisfy an internal medical/legal requirement, but they are merely traffic prevention measures. Users lose patience and will simply not return, no matter how much the security debate rages on.

You should also consider the user journey in your content itself. Does it have the right visibility online i.e. can it be easily located? Put yourself in the users’ shoes, and consider profiling the most common visitors too. Can they find the right information they need quickly and easily? Are they able to digest it at a reasonable pace too? Don’t let anything get in the way of your content. 

image: digital barriers/shutterstock