When humans consume content online, they tend to scan, rather than read every word on the page.
The research consistently shows us that users only read a small fraction of the words written on a piece of digital content. Instead, they’re scanning the content – looking for signals and keywords that might match the information they’re looking for.
And this has been the case for over 20 years, so we shouldn’t expect this behaviour to change any time soon.
It’s clear from this research that users want to find the content that is most relevant to their own personality, interests, role or preferences. And if they don’t find it quickly, they’re likely to disengage and leave (remember cognitive load, which we discussed earlier?).
So as designers, we need to make sure we personalise each experience as much as possible, only serving the most relevant content to individuals wherever we can.
And we need to learn continuously as their interests and preferences change.
That’s why Netflix’s homepage is a curated list of titles that they believe you will enjoy, so you can find content that you enjoy quickly and ultimately spend more time on the platform.
The more individual the personalisation, the better. However, HR leaders may want to consider personalising experiences for larger groups of people. For instance, they could serve specific content to team members based on their level of experience, department or motivations.
And there are a few clever ways that we can do this.
One way is to serve users with an interactive onboarding system that asks them to select their interests or preferences from the outset.
For instance, Spotify asks new users to select artists or genres they like, and music is suggested to them based on their selections. Additionally, growing numbers of platforms and apps build this onboarding experience into a fun quiz or survey.
And over time we can continue to update the ‘model’ of that specific user that we initially built, by paying close attention to the content that they engage with on our platform on an ongoing basis.
Look at how we utilised personalisation in our project for an international law firm…