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Published on January 26th, 2018 | by Emergent Enterprise


Flush the Goldfish and Understand YOUR Users

You have probably seen the statistic in a presentation at a conference or even heard it from a keynote speaker: humans now have an attention span of eight seconds which is one second less than a goldfish. Don’t ask me how you keep a goldfish engaged to measure this. Keep “Finding Dory” looping outside the bowl?

The goldfish attention span is one of those business world myths that never seem to go belly up. The stat comes from a 2015 Microsoft Canada research project that included an infographic from an unverifiable source which gave us the mind-blowing stat. Speakers and webinar hosts sucked in the “fact” hook, line and sinker.

The Microsoft study does remind us of some important user experience tenets that should be kept top of mind in any initiative.

  1. Users today are being bombarded with different screens of content and audio and visual stimuli. Whatever you are planning on deploying to your audience usually arrives in a cacophony of other messages, lessons, notifications, videos, texts, emojis and social media mayhem. Never assume you will have the full attention of your user in their specific context. Better yet, get to know their context as completely as possible so you know what you are up against.
  2. Your users are actually getting better at processing information. The information onslaught described in #1 is training brains to deal with the different messages and alternate between them more adeptly.
  3. Your content needs to be good, really good to stand out. This requires you as a UX designer to know what your audience believes is good. It means knowing their wants, needs, dreams, desires, fears and priorities.

Goldfish everywhere can breath a bubble of relief that humans are not going to turn to them to start running the world. They do have many amazing qualities but we shouldn’t be intimidated by their skills. Your users – employees, customers, clients – are complex, curious and engaging information consumers that want good stuff. Deliver it.

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Emergent Enterprise

The Emergent Enterprise (EE) website brings together current and important news in enterprise mobility and the latest in innovative technologies in the business world. The articles are hand selected by Emergent Enterprise and not the result of automated electronic aggregating. The site is designed to be a one-stop shop for anyone who has an ongoing interest in how technology is changing how the world does business and how it affects the workforce from the shop floor to the top floor. EE encourages visitor contributions and participation through comments, social media activity and ratings.

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