Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A diverting read!

Heck, it seems I have nothing but diversion in my life these days. There are at least half a dozen (mostly unsolicited) mailings I regularly receive each day now, pointing me to various alluring online articles - to say nothing of the Yahoo News headlines alongside my e-mail every day, and the various oddities that friends regularly pass on to me. 

It's so hard to resist that one impulsive click - thinking that you'll just scan for a few seconds, dismiss it as worthless and close the window - which leads to... a long read.... and following up half a dozen supplementary links.... and scurrying off to research some tangentially related issue that it's brought to your mind... and striving to catalogue all the links for future reference. Oh, it's the curse of the Internet age!

However, every once in a while, alongside all the stuff that was basically serving only as procrastination, I come upon a real gem. And a week or two ago I happened upon a piece on Business Insider with the rather portentous (but undeniably attention-grabbing) 47 Mind-Blowing Psychological Facts You Need To Know To About Yourself.

I knew quite a few of them already, but it's an engaging read anyway. And with the welter of supplementary links to related articles and supporting research, I found that, even trying to ration myself to 10 or 12 pages at a time, it was eating up two or three hours of my time each time I sat down for a browse through it. (The URL is misleadingly labelled "100 Things..." Thank heavens it wasn't quite that long!)

It's written by a woman called Susan Weinschenk, who's been applying cognitive psychology to the field of user interface design for over 20 years now. You can find more of her observations on her own website, The Team W Blog.

I find it rather galling to reflect that so much is now understood academically about how to make websites etc. right, and yet 90% of what we're given (even by the 'big boys' like Yahoo and Blogger) is still so egregiously wrong. How does this happen??

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