Sunday, 11 February 2007

Never assume understanding online

To assume is to make an ass out of u and me.

I'd never heard that until recently, no really. But when working in the online world, it is a pertinent phrase. Just because I know how to find things quickly with Google, or what software is required to open a particular file type (not that I can claim to know them all!), it doesn't mean the audience that I am responsible for will.

This goes for developers, designers, content producers and all that are engulfed in a digital world, we should never take our audience's level of understanding for granted.

Many are able to bring in aspects of the offline world into their work that enhances the usability of products or services.

But for some digital workers it is often vital to step back from a piece of work, or some web specific copy to imagine what someone who rarely dabbles online might make of what's been created.

It is eye-opening to realise how many people visit a search engine to search for... a search engine. Part of me sniggers, but the less sneering side realises that a large part of the population don't go online everyday.

Not everyone is up to speed with the latest 'coolest' websites or crazes; they don't get their daily fix of news online; they prefer banking in a more human-interactive environment; and aren't sure about shopping in a paperless, digital world.

It's a responsibility of anyone producing any content or work seen online: making something advanced or ultra-modern is wasted if your target audience are unlikely to know how to use it easily. Myself included!

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