Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Websites That Keep Users' Attention

Yesterday, Techcrunch ran a story with this image (among others) in response to Morgan Stanley's evaluation of Internet trends. As you can see in the image to the left part of the story was about why Facebook is growing faster than Myspace. The explanation offered in the image to the left is based on the visual design of a site including the placement of advertising and the type of advertising displayed. As I thought about it I realized the explanation given and demonstrated in that image does explain exactly why I use Facebook and not Myspace (I did use Myspace at one time). When I'm evaluating websites to include on this blog one of the biggest items I take into consideration is the number of advertisements and the intrusiveness of the advertisements. If there are too many advertisements or the advertisements are intrusive to the point that they detract from the educational value of the website I do not include those websites on the blog.

To see if this pattern of gravitating toward websites with less intrusive advertising held true for high school students I did a little survey with my students. Only a handful of my students use both Myspace and Facebook, but of the ones that do use both all said that they prefer Facebook. Interestingly, all that use Myspace exclusively say that the advertising is annoying, but that they stay with Myspace because that is where their friends are and or they're more familiar with Myspace. So in the case of my 60 students familiarity and friends were worth the annoyance of intrusive advertising. My little study is inconclusive so I'm going to do a little more research tomorrow with some students by having them evaluate some of the websites I've written about on this blog or have considered writing about on this blog. In the meantime if you have any ideas about what makes students gravitate toward a particular website or use one website over another, please leave a comment.