Learning From Kindle

Most people go to websites for information—not for marketing.

I recently caved and bought a new Kindle—a major improvement over earlier generation Kindle, for sure. It’s taken me about five years of trying to read books on the Kindle, and now I’m almost ready to say I’m comfortable with it.

One challenge for me was knowing where I was in a book. The Paperwhite offers some subtle but useful little design features that help you place yourself in the book, and I’m getting used those. I like the highlighting feature and the ability to annotate. And I’m learning to accept the size and weight of it in my hand. I’m almost comfortable.

But not quite. Here’s why:

Because I wasn’t entirely clear about what I was buying, I didn’t realize that what I’d purchased was a Kindle with advertising built in. My Kindle, it seems, is designed as a marketing environment. From the ads to the menus to the recommendations to the integration with Amazon website, it’s largely about marketing, and as a reader I can’t get away from it.

Marketing distracts me from reading.

When you make everything about pushing marketing info at people, you make it easy for people to disengage. No where is this more apparent than on websites.

Most people go to websites for information—not for marketing. Marketing is what has already brought them to your website—the ads you ran, the brochure they picked up at the fair, the postcard they got in the mail, the word of mouth. When they get to your website, they are usually seeking something else.

Usabilities studies consistently show that people don’t read marketing on websites and don’t like it. They skip over any content that feels like marketing and instead look for facts.

Interesting facts, useful ideas, relevant content—these are what keep users engaged and build trust. Yet most websites are junked up with marketing language.

I would read and buy a lot more books on my Kindle if Amazon wasn’t always marketing to me through it. (Maybe I’ll sell it on eBay and get the other one).

PHOTO: D Sharon Pruitt 

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