Here’s a little real world parable.
Man has some old window shutters to sell. He creates an ad on his local classified listings website. He tries very hard to keep the message simple:
About 30 minutes after the ad is published, the first enquiry arrives by text:
“Can u pls tell me size of shutters?”
Maybe the problem was caused by the fact that the dimensions were split across two lines in the ad, whether viewed full screen or on a mobile device.
Maybe the enquirer didn’t even see or read the main block of text, only focusing on the title, price and image, before seeking out the mobile phone number.
It’s possible to imagine the eye-tracking trace - starting top left at “Six wooden shutters”, straight across left to right to the price, down to the image, and then right to left in a straight line to the mobile number - skirting all the way around the all-important dimensions info.
Maybe we should just blame the enquirer for not looking hard enough.
But there’s an old saying that if you’re being misunderstood, look first to the way you’re communicating.
And this is a very good motto for managers of web content.
Sadly, there’s just not enough traffic looking for this particular classified ad to justify a full blown split test of different ways of presenting the text… shutters are a minority interest.
But this incident served as a very good reminder of a crucial principle of managing web content and tasks - never take your users for granted.