We talk about relationships, a lot. That’s because BtoB publishing, today, is more about relationships than ever. We focus on tactics that help us to build better relationships with our readers—from integrations, to social interactions, to buyers guides. These are all facets of a strategy that provide readers with resources and community to become a part of their workflow, to help achieve their goals.
But, we can’t get there unless we start with a good reader experience. Without a good reader experience, we don’t have readers to build relationships with. People walk (or run) away, when some functionality on a website fails and they perceive it as a terminal fail. People don’t waste time providing information that they don’t deem necessary. And, people don’t stick around if they are bored, uninterested or too challenged.
This all sounds so subjective, right? How are we supposed to create a good reader experience when every reader is different? The thing is—every reader is the same too, in some ways. That’s the beauty of we humans. There are ample people who think A LOT about what makes a good reader experience and it comes down to a fine balance of design, content and personality—that leave the reader feeling positive/good/happy/excited, etc.
Here are a few qualities to consider when you’re thinking about reader experience:
1) Sense of Accomplishment. This can be two-fold for readers in that they need to feel like they are accomplishing something on your site e.g. learning, acquiring tools and networking to support their goals. But, it can also be as simple as navigating the site successfully e.g. completing a questionnaire, posting a comment, registering or completing a purchase.
2) Immersion. We all embrace those experiences that we get lost in, where time disappears and we come out of it feeling like a better person or in a better state of mind. For a publisher, it’s a matter of making it fun and easy to search for information and providing relevant content and products or activities that the reader can engage deeply with. Of course, a big part of this is about knowing your audience.
3) Personality. We spend a lot of time with our computers and devices. More than ever, in fact. But, at the end of the day, most people still crave human interaction. All this technology helps to connect us with so many more people, but most of them will never stand in the same room we are standing in, or sit at our dinner table. That doesn’t mean we can’t show them who we are. In fact, that’s what they want. They still want a personal interaction. Don’t be afraid to give your site and content some personality. Use humor, and style.
4) Challenge and Intrigue. No, we’re not talking about a vampire reality show. We’re talking about making navigation easy, but not too easy—so that readers can feel playful. We’re talking about giving them enough to make them curious and laying out a path that gives them a sense of exploration. We’re also talking about giving readers the opportunity to manage their own interactions on your site—by easily making changes to their accounts and preferences.
5) Meaning. Lastly, but not least—readers want a meaningful experience. All that we’ve talked about so far feeds into this, but as it turns out, there are 15 core qualities that people worldwide believe contribute to a meaningful experience. They’re worth a gander.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of what makes a good reader experience, but it’s a good place to start!