9 Replies Latest reply on Jul 9, 2017 9:20 AM by Nancy OShea

    Can we justify digital content?

    pziecina Level 6

      I had what i found to be an interesting conversation today, concerning how useful the internet and digital media is for e-commerce, and how most of it would not be justified if it had to put a case for its existence and usability, beyond earning someone a living, (most often the creator) and how much of it is a complete waste of time.


      Now this was not a conversation about the rights of free speech, or about stifling freedoms of any kind, but about the real usefulness of all that is available via the internet, be it web sites, videos, educational material or ebooks, and just how useful or useless most of it is, about how easy it is to use, find products, its entertainment value, or even about finding real information.


      Before anyone says anything about it helping people with disabilities, or the elderly, as a member of both groups i can honestly say, "it fails miserably ", on both counts.


      As someone who develops for the web and has a reasonable understanding of how to use it, even i had to admit to others that unless one knows exactly what one is looking for, (manufacturer, author, product name, etc) finding anything to buy outside of the weekly food delivery on the web is almost impossible, (and my age group are supposed to be the people with the most disposable income). Even ebooks are 80% of the time, (in this writers opinion) a waste of time, as the samples delivered are often no more than the first few pages of the printed book, covering things like copyright, chapter contents and co-authors/how-to-use, (if technical) and often no actual content, as for video rental or video learning most of the time i would want my money back, (if that was possible).


      So can anyone really justify over 1 billion web sites, creating new web sites, adding new content for their or their clients site, or even charging for an ebook or video without first ensuring that the sample(s) available actually delivers something worthwhile?


      And what do you think we are doing wrong and how do we fix it, when meaningfull casual shopping is not something that the web makes available to users?


      Or to put it simply, if i cannot find anything to spend my money on via the web, then there must be something wrong, (saves a lot though )

        • 1. Re: Can we justify digital content?
          Nancy OShea Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          I love digital media.   With the exception of Amazon.com which I find the most user un-friendly retail shopping site on the planet, my online experience is pretty good.   I'm able to research and comparison shop online more efficiently than I can in brick & mortar locations alone.


          As an example, I recently purchased an e-book from Nolo for a legal matter I'm working on.  The experience was seamless.  No waiting days or weeks for delivery.  No added costs for paper, printing, postage & handling. The book's content was exactly as represented & instantly delivered in 3 media formats.  Best of all, I didn't have to leave my home to find it.


          Ultimately, I hired a legal document preparation service to help me. The entire process from payment to contact signature and legal form completion was masterfully handled digitally through their web site & emails. The cost for this service is not cheap but it is significantly less than having a lawyer's office prepare the very same documents.   And again, I didn't have to leave my home to get this done.  



          • 2. Re: Can we justify digital content?
            pziecina Level 6

            That's just the point the people i was talking to where making, you have to know what you want and are looking for on the web. Their complaint to me, (and the one i had no answer for in the end) is that casual shopping on the web just because you want to buy something, be it for the home, yourself, a gift, (for no specific reason) unless one knows or at least has an idea of what to buy, is impossible.


            Try entering a search query, "something for the home" and nothing worth while comes up. This also applys to just about everything, the casual browsing that is possible in a shopping center, or even a good book store, is just not possible. Even the menues we create require the user to know at least the catagory of product they want.


            The complaints about 'browsing' the web without a specific product in mind, using even the major players sites i tried to search for suggestions turned up nothing, so i was unable to answer how they would do it. I'm not saying there is an answer to what they were complaining about, but when all of them say they have given up buying ebooks or downloadable content, due to much of it not being 'what was advertised' then there is definitly something wrong.

            • 3. Re: Can we justify digital content?
              Ussnorway Adobe Community Professional

              so your basic problem is that web shopping (for something worth getting) needs you to "think"?

              • 4. Re: Can we justify digital content?
                Bob Howes Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Shopping represents maybe one percent of my time on the web.  Add in searches for phone numbers and addresses of local shops, maybe take that up to 3 or 4 percent.


                I'm going to disagree slightly with the original poster.  I'm also of retirement age and slightly disabled (I have two artificial heart valves and a knee awaiting replacement in the next few months.  Add to that that, through my life, I've lived in 3 countries and visited 50 or 60 more, and you can see that I have relatives and friends all over the world.  The Internet keeps me in contact with these people in a way that never happened in the days of pen, paper and air mail. 


                However, I'll add that, although retired, I still love doing sound mixing and video editing as a hobby and a way to keep my brain working.  I do mixing and editing for people all over the world and, without the Internet and things like Dropbox I just wouldn't be able to do the things I play with.

                • 5. Re: Can we justify digital content?
                  Ussnorway Adobe Community Professional

                  yes the main thing that got me into web design (back in the day) was the fact that I didn't have to live in the city to make a living from it... good luck making cars from "never heard of it"

                  • 6. Re: Can we justify digital content?
                    pziecina Level 6

                    Ussnorway  wrote


                    so your basic problem is that web shopping (for something worth getting) needs you to "think"?

                    Let's think of that the other way around, the menus we create need to think.


                    We are still using menu systems from 25 years ago, that were based on the printed shopping catalogue way of working. Creating a menu that guides users to products that would help them to make a decision and provide ideas about what to buy would not be that difficult to create, the main obstacle would be asking the right questions, and keeping it as simple as possible, as no user would want to fill out even a 10 question form, so it would have to be simple enough to achive the desired result, but comprehensive enough to get the required answers from the user in order for it to make a 'guess' as to products to offer.


                    The question of digital content, was more a complaint about the way it is presented. There is no point in the author or creator of video content offering their creations for purchase unless the system selling that content can present it better than the current methods. Very few people will purchase something if they have no idea if the content offered is what they are looking for.


                    Social networking was not part of the conversation, only on-line shopping.

                    • 7. Re: Can we justify digital content?
                      Ussnorway Adobe Community Professional

                      if I need silicone gel for a underwater camera what questions is this menu going to ask?

                      • 8. Re: Can we justify digital content?
                        pziecina Level 6

                        You are asking for a specific item, the problem as it was told to me was how to find an item just by browsing, and without knowing any specifics.


                        The problem is making a menu that asks questions and makes suggestions. I know that the old 3 selections in a menu to find what one is looking for is the accepted norm, but that is not true for someone doing 'window shopping' on the web, and in most cases is not true anyway.


                        An 'intelligent menu', would present the user with a simple way of searching for something by asking questions and showing general categories of suggestions, (using images). This would certainly not have been possible 5-6 years ago, but with hi-speed connections it is certainly possible now, the only problem being is what questions to ask, without making it a time waster, and making the suggestion sensible to the user, and in context to the site they are using.


                        As an example, does one start with a question about where the potential purchase is for, about who it is for, (gender)  or by asking the price range.

                        • 9. Re: Can we justify digital content?
                          Nancy OShea Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                          Major retail sites often give users the option to filter or sort items by variables -- color, gender, size, price or reviews in ascending or descending order.  Some retailers like DELL do a nice job of guessing what items people are most interested in based on their past viewing / purchase history.


                          Amazon & other sites also display a row of "people who purchased this also looked at these items."   I sometimes find that helpful especially for identifying optional accessories or comparable items.


                          So I think some sites are already doing a lot to help guide users toward products they are most likely to be interested in.