Does Your Site Suffer from “Interaction Overload?”


See complete post @ TheOatmeal.com

As this hilarious comic from TheOatmeal makes clear, there’s a difference between making your site available for social media interaction, and spamming your visitor with a bunch of social media requests. These days, it seems, we as Internet users all want to be so interactive with the sites we visit, and we as webmasters want to make sure we’re connecting with our users as much as humanly possible.

However, we as designers can easily overdo it. If we try to push too much interaction on our sites, we may end up pushing away more visitors than we bring in. It’s great to be interconnected–don’t get me wrong–but we can’t afford to let “interaction” and the pursuit of it overshadow the content. We want our users to enjoy our content, not be driven away by dozens of popup forms and social media sharing opportunities.

A Quick Interaction Checklist

  1. Do you have social media buttons on your navigation, every post, sidebar, AND footer?
  2. Do pop-up boxes appear after users do or click anything on your site, asking if they want to be added to feeds/like you on Facebook/follow you on Twitter/etc.?
  3. Do you have tons of flyout content that randomly appears from the sides of the page, covering up actual page content while demanding that your user interact with the flyout?
  4. Can your user not even scroll down a little without being visually assaulted by images for all the social media networks you control are a part of?
  5. If your user clicks to exit your site, does a final warning message pop up saying something like “Wait! You haven’t liked us yet!!!”

If any of these sound familiar (maybe even the tongue-in-cheek ones)…your site might have “interaction overload.”

Fixing Interaction Overload

It is possible to tone down the amount of interaction opportunities on your site without losing visitors’ feedback. Here are a few ideas:

  • Instead of having large social media links scattered all over the place, include just one or two instances, in common-sense, highly-visible places (main navigation or header is always a good spot).
  • Alternatively, if you need to have social media buttons on every post (like most blogs these days), make the icons as unobtrusive as possible–big enough to click on, but small enough not to detract from content.
  • Make sure that pop-up information, like newsletter alerts, optional forms, etc., do not restrict access to the rest of the site’s content. (The notable exception here is if you want your users to sign up for an account with your site before they access any content.)
  • Above all, do not force interaction between users and the site, but make it readily available–make forms, social media sharing, and alerts highly visible on the page itself, so that users are free to click what they want.

Summary

Getting more users to follow, like, and use your site doesn’t mean begging in the form of several thousand social media requests. Provide ways to interact without looking desperate, and you’ll attract more users who will get more honest value out of your content. It’s kind of like dating, in a way–act too desperate, and you drive everyone away, but being comfortable in your own skin draws everyone near.

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