The Cost of Interaction

Here is the latest in my series of essays Local Media in a Postmodern World, and it’s a topic I’ve kind of “written around” over the years.

The Cost of Interaction is a simple concept with complex aspects pertaining to web design and content management, but for local media companies to be relevant downstream, we’re going to have to take a serious look at this.

Just as there are costs in doing business, there are costs in being a consumer. Over the years, we’ve witnessed businesses shifting some of their costs to their customers — think self-service gas, fast food, self check-out at the grocery store or telephone answering systems — but online is a different matter, for consumers have choices here than they don’t have in the “real” world. Therefore, pushing customers in this manner online is a dangerous proposition. A high cost of interaction means less value to users and fewer reasons to return. Conversely, the lower the cost of interaction, the easier and more usable the application, and that means a reason to come back.

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