A new home in the Internet

Numerous rheingold studies show: surfing the Web is characterized by a new self-determined reductionism – with significant consequences for successful website design.

While just a few years ago the Internet was found fascinating, connected with the discovery of a boundless realm, with great adventures, dramatic highs, and gripping involvement, these aspects have given way to an attitude of the Internet being a means to an end. In all target groups, individual routines and reductionist tendencies determine the attitude towards the electronic gate to the world.

Today users determine their Internet usage themselves. By means of autonomous navigation and skilled choices, as well as by limiting the content and/or time of their surfing sessions, users demonstrate that they (want to) have the medium under control. Whole nights of surfing aimlessly through this information nirvana are a thing of the past. The “Internet freak” is no longer under the spell of the endless sea of information.

The “purposeful self-limitation” is characterized by rapid, sober, aim-oriented research on hand-picked pages. This goes hand in hand with high standards of technology, which are needed to smoothly download large quantities of data. One proves one’s skill by deftly reaching pre-defined goals quickly and precisely – and not by surfing for hours or finding unexpected highlights on well-trodden paths.

“Home self-orientation” sets the promise of a global network against the restrictions of an individually centered relevant set. Home zones, which are constantly sought, personal hobbies, and offers made by the supermarket around the corner have a strong impact on many Internet users’ lives. It is only in these pegged-out enclaves that there is a protected space for more extensive tours and the spreading of private obsessions – from a passion for collecting to “adult entertainment.”

These new goal-oriented routines of Internet usage are grounded in the increasing everyday integration of the Net. Moreover, they are in keeping with the mega-trend of reducing the overwhelming diversity of information and with the general withdrawal to the private sphere.

“Ensuring that expectations will be met” is the main maxim that has to be adhered to for website design to be successful today. Consumers expect a reduction to the essential and a profiled orientation. Random variety without an agenda is of little interest today.

© 2015 rheingold