The Den of Discourse

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Dave 24th March 2006 01:23 AM

Why don't people read instructions?
At our website we have a "Contact Us" page where we ask people not to contact us asking for help or advice (we have forums for that purpose). And despite pointing out that we live in the New Zealand time zone, every week I get some idiot ringing me at 2am asking which camcorder I recommend.

I once did an experiment at another website we owned, where we had a form for people to enter a competition. Entrants were told they would need to follow the instructions or else their entry would be invalid. They were told that the instructions would take 30 seconds to read.

More than half of the entrants tried to fill out the form without reading the instructions. Incredibly, 1 in 5 entrants were prepared to spend more than two minutes trying to find a way to avoid reading the 30-second instructions.

Similar things happen on all our websites. We get a constant stream of messages which have nothing to do with the site they were sent from, or which blatantly ignore the instructions. It's such an issue that we have had to remove our contact details from some websites.

If you ever wonder why you get a blunt response from a website or helpdesk, ask yourself if you bothered to read all the instructions properly. For example, if you were told to read a FAQ before using the contact form, did you do so? If not, there's a very good chance that you are one of many people who are wasting the recipient's time.

Remember, more than 50% of people ignore simple instructions, so there's a good chance this rant is aimed at YOU!!

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