The news abuse – content overdosed

Mike headed downtown to the new library to find a particular book about dinosaurs. The task was to bring back the book to class today without any help from the elementary school teacher. When he arrived at the library he pressed the door handle, entered the huge lobby and was immediately flooded with information from the news people.

 “Our annual report is out. Read the full report here…” “There is a new area for marketing literature at this library…” “The new edition of “Learning by doing” is delayed!” “Our latest employee is Karen Olsen.” “Now you can borrow all your books a week longer. Go to the…”

They were all over the luxurious entrance hall, trying to get his and other visitors’ attention. Mike covered his ears to be able to keep focus on the name of the book he was looking for.

In a dark corner at the end of the hall, he spotted a tiny desk with a note saying: “Fill in this form before you start asking us questions”. Most certainly he wouldn’t find the book that way.

He noticed the signs next to the stairs. There was Psychology on the first floor, Drama on the second, Biology on the third and History on the fourth floor.

He ran up the stairs to the fourth floor. In contrast to the entrance, this corridor was empty, lacking the luxurious décor of the entrance hall. He went through the shelves in order to find books about dinosaurs. After navigating through the whole floor he finally found the book he was looking for. He ran down the stairs, borrowed it and headed for class.

Back at school the teacher looked at his book.

“Hmm” she said. “I am afraid this is the wrong edition of “Dinosaurs of Our Lives”.
“I didn’t know there was a later edition”, he said disappointedly, not being able to complete the task.
“Didn’t anyone inform you about this when you borrowed it?” she asked him.
“No, no one did”.

The teacher decided to call the library to find out why they didn’t tell their clients about the various editions. In this particular case the two editions were completely different from each other.

“I am certain he was given that information”, the librarian answered when the teacher called him. “You see, we have at least ten news people in the entrance hall, announcing news all day long. And we also have a whole room filled with older news. Why didn’t he look there?”

The teacher sighed loudly.

“He didn’t know he had to pay attention to the news in the entrance hall or in the separate news room. How was he supposed to know there was a later edition when he entered the library? That information has to be given to him on the actual book shelf where the dinosaur book is.”

After the telephone call the librarian called the managing director.

“It seems we have to increase the number of news people and put them closer to the front door. It´s clear our visitors don’t notice them enough right now”.

In real life, you wouldn’t broadcast all your news to every visitor in the entrance hall. That would be a waste of time since much of the information isn’t of interest to each individual visitor. On many websites though, that is exactly the case: news are presented on a central area of the start page, frequently updated by ambitious editors. Few visitors are genuinely interested in news per se unless they are visiting a news site. Specific information is more likely to be read in the context where your visitors need it; on a destination page rather than on the start page. In the destination context your content will be meaningful to your visitors and therefore used.

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