You can be sticky, or you can go with the flow

One of the things I’ve been thinking about asking you the past few days is, “how do you use the web?” I haven’t asked because I haven’t been sure how to frame the question in a way that would elicit useful answers, and my traffic is NO WHERE NEAR large enough to get a meaningful sample size.

Everything that I’ve seen about usability and observed about what’s popular is that people use the web much like I do — you begin with a start page, such as your installed portal page, or your RSS page, or your bookmarks, and the you go through your routine of hitting your favorite, reliable sites. You scan and rarely click, and when you do click, you are just as likely to read only a portion of the article as read all of it, or watch only part of the video or all of it. You give content only seconds to make a connection with your interest. You don’t spend a lot of time on any one site — unless that site is an aggregation of content, such as MySpace or YouTube.

What I’m trying to understand is whether a web site’s strategy should be aimed at fitting into the flow of usage, or try to be a sticky portal. It’s Google vs. Yahoo!

I strongly suspect that the Yahoo! approach, and the approach of most newspaper sites, is doomed. Your goal shouldn’t be to capture and retain eyeballs, but to aggregate an audience who considers you, even for 20 seconds every day or two, an important part of their media consumption.

Today, the blogosphere is exploding with a discussion about the platforms are the new portals, and the de-portalizaiton of the web. I don’t think this reflects a new phenomena, but rather an acknowledgment of something we’ve been observing for a couple of years now. The sites growing the fastest seem to feed the inner ADD in all of us.

So, how do you use the web?

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3 thoughts on “You can be sticky, or you can go with the flow

  1. […] This relates to mode of thinking about digital media that I’ve been trying to fix my own mind on. The way I use the web — and I suspect a lot of other people do, too — runs counter to how PGM media people think. The point isn’t to be sticky. The goal is to be part of the flow of participation, a voice in the conversation. We are all just participants in a grand, large, and noisy mega-super-store of ideas, pictures and words. Web sites, in the way PGM people might think of them, do not exist. They are just pixels on a screen that can be consumed or ignored at will. The mindset that says I must own the consumer or the user experience is a mindset that is doomed to failure. You cannot wrap content in a nice, neat, tamper-proof package and say “look, but don’t touch.” That world is dead and gone. […]

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