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Gone in (less than) 60 Seconds

How long do we stay on a website looking for answers?

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, less than 59 seconds. The number one reason for leaving a site? We can’t find what we expect. How can we find the documentation we are looking for in less than a minute?

With technology enhancements on the rise, so is the amount of documentation. But the amount of time we spend reading documentation has decreased. The way we consume information has changed, especially with social media. Take Twitter: 142 characters or less to convey a thought.

Fuzzy focus.

According to Slate research, we can’t stay focused. The longer an article or page, the more we tune out. In addition, 38% of users do not engage and another 5% do not scroll. And add this fact:  the primary reason that users contact support is that they cannot find the information they need.

It is not only about finding the information, but also finding out if it needs to be consumed in a specific order.

Gone are the days of producing one deliverable for all types of users. We are then left with the question: How do we structure content in such a way that it can be authored once but delivered to meet a wide range of requirements?

In comes dynamic content deployment which allows users to determine the content and then output it to meet their needs. Dynamic content needs to have the ability to be:

  • Searched
  • Filtered
  • Ordered
  • Produced

Users must be able to search content quickly to find the answers they are looking for. This means content must be appropriately indexed and weighted for searches to work efficiently. With the vast amount of content that exists for any given topic, useful filters must help to narrow and personalize the results.

Let’s consider at a real example. On, search for the term ‘brush’. Before applying filters, I received over 500,000 possible matches. Let’s add some filters:

  • Filter = Beauty, now under 50 000 possible matches
  • Filter = Hair care, now under 10 000 possible matches
  • Filter = Dry hair, now under 200 possible matches.

Using these filters, I found what I was really looking for quickly and efficiently.

So why not apply this same logic to content?

With everything broken down into small findable pieces, a new issue arises. What happens when content should be used in a specific order? Hierarchical information must be presented in such a way that the order is clearly understandable to users. When content is linked, users can navigate through the hierarchy smoothly.

Now that users have found all the content, what can they do with it? Allowing users the flexibility to save, update, and export their own customized documents based on the content that they found adds the user experience.

Tech-savvy and with mobile devices in hand, today’s users want information fast and findable. A thoughtful implementation of dynamic content can be what brings users back to your website.


Teresa Walfield is a Project Manager with Innovatia Inc. She has more than 15 years’ experience working with developing content and content delivery methods. She and her family live in beautiful Prince Edward Island on the east coast of Canada.
Lynne Attix is a Lead Writer, working with one of our largest telecommunications clients as part of Innovatia since November 2014. She’s been a technical writer for 20 years, and lives with her husband and their menagerie in North Carolina, USA.


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