Why you should shun Facebook and Twitter for calmer technology
Our increasingly visual culture has led us to become immune to the vast majority of visual signals present throughout our daily lives. For brands it is often difficult to make products or advertising stand out as there are just so many messages all vying for our attention.
In the digital world this problem can often be amplified. However, whilst the internet can still be visually overwhelming, it is the overload of information that can be more exhausting.
As a result, we are starting to see the rise of calm technology taking shape across the online world behaving as an antidote to the information frenzy.
The immediate nature of digital technology has taught us to sift, or rather scroll, through tremendous volumes of data at a very swift rate, stopping only when we find what we’re particularly interested in. We are losing out on the idea of accidental discovery as we tend to ignore the majority of information available to us. However, calm technology is beginning to counteract this.
Recently, there has been a significant growth in the number of sites and applications that actively cut down on the digital noise and high volumes of data. The user will be shown only enough information that enables them to focus on a single task. The idea is to reduce distractions to the workflow without losing functionality. This will help blur the line between digital and real life experiences.
Calm technology is encouraging consumers to shun the larger, more established social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and instead turn to more content focussed social networking sites such as Pinterest or Chime.In. Whereas the bigger sites have been heavily infiltrated by vast numbers of users, brands and external apps, and are indiscriminate in the kind of content they choose to focus on, newer sites make a point of being simple. Logging into networks such as this will ensure users only read about what they actually care about, which is a far cry from a typical Facebook experience.
Calm technology is also leading the growing popularity of the type of curation seen on social product discovery sites such as Lyst and Discoveredd. These sites offer a more focused stream of content than standard social networks and are essentially social filters that enable their communities to curate the products that are most relevant to them. Users are drawn to the lack of visual clutter and the simplicity of the format, they know that the sites are all about fashion and expect nothing more, nothing less. The rise of interest networks, solely following someone based on similar likes and shared interest topics is another way that calm technology has impacted user behaviour. Browsing becomes more focussed.
Online retail is an area that particularly benefits from this kind of design. One example is UK’s largest book publisher, Hachette Group, which was looking for technology that would enable it to capture data and interact with their consumers more efficiently.
The result was a digital framework that draws on artificial intelligence to pool content on books published by the group. This dynamic display of content created a browsing experience for the consumer and a sense of discovery that can be often lost when shopping for books online. However, by focussing the content and displaying it in a user-friendly mosaic pattern ensures the user doesn’t become overwhelmed by the amount of information available.
The emphasis on clean layouts and visual focus doesn’t necessarily mean that calm technology doesn’t befit marketing goals. The public’s appetite for apps that streamline information coming at them is growing significantly and marketers must see the value in this new keenness. By pushing the majority of information to the sideline but still visible, reassures people that whilst they might not need to have all information to hand at the current moment it is ready for when they do want it.
Peter Veash, Managing Director, The BIO Agency.