April 27, 2010

The Age of Hyperactivity

It doesn’t seem that long ago when we would go along to a client to try and sell them on the idea that customers can now interact with them thanks to this amazing new thing called the internet (it was even spelled with a capital I in those days). Fast-forward 10 years and now brands are faced with a new challenge. Interactivity is a given but now customers have been sucked into the new phenomenon of Hyperactivity. With so many possible online distractions, not to mention all the other connected devices they might own, just getting their attention to interact with them is a huge challenge.

What are the signs of someone suffering from this new Hyperactivity? If you look at the definitions of the traditional form there is a definite parallel.

“Sufferers are often distracted and exhibit impulsive behavior that include: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. They have a high difficulty maintaining attention have a difficult time sticking with one activity and cannot focus”

If you’ve made it this far then there is hope for you. You haven’t succumbed just yet. But let’s look at the symptoms. If you suffer from some of these then you’ve probably moved from Interactivity to Hyperactivity too:

Sufferers have difficulty following directions, processing information and completing tasks.

So you’ve spent money on an interaction designer and usability expert to create the best user experience. It seems totally logical how people should navigate your site. Will they follow your flow? Can they easily be guided through the simple steps needed to engage with your brand? Will they hell? Check out IOGraph which tracks mouse movement. Test a few people on your well-designed website and see where they go. Then pour yourself a stiff drink.

Daydreaming and boredom are common. This boredom can lead to hyperactive behaviors like constant talking.

Twitter, text messaging, Skyping, MSNing… How many of these have you done today? How many of these conversations have had a brand name dropped in there? Buzz marketing is tapping into the hyperactive talkers to make sure they get maximum exposure for minimum cost. The new campaign for Pringles even makes fun of these over-sharers and encourages them to share something worthwhile – like a potato chip for example?

Those who are impulsive have difficulty sitting still.

How much time do people spend on websites? According to Nielsen, in March 2009 it was 56 seconds. Less than one minute to watch your loading animation, click through your site, read your copy, and experience your content. That’s about the attention span of a goat. Hard to really convince someone to buy your product… but then again it is longer than a TVC.

Waiting is torture for the hyperactive.

No download speed is enough for these people who want everything now. How many people were happy to watch the unfinished version of the Wolverine movie just because they couldn’t wait to see it at the movies? Someone who knows how to manipulate the Hyperactive is Steve Jobs. He will announce a product like the iPad then force people to wait 3 months to get one. Then as soon as they have one in their hands these attention-deficient victims are waiting for the next generation model.

Does this all sound familiar? In the space of one day have you tweeted, updated your profile, uploaded your photo to make yourself beatbox (here’s mine), downloaded music or film, chatted, emailed, bought online, played a game, Googled, shared something viral, blogged and left a website within 56 seconds? You’re now officially Hyperactive.