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April 11th, 2017

Digital Exhaustion: Why More Connectivity Isn’t Always Better

Every company wants people to love using their product. Adding features, capabilities, and rich experiences are tried and true tools to engage the “wow” factor in consumers. However, we have become so driven to craft pleasurable consumer experiences that the field of digitized applications is now crowded with addictive systems rivaling that of controlled substances.

Connectivity is a powerful asset, but simply adding more and more guarantees neither efficiency nor focus. If the ultimate goal is to create products that improve quality of life, then we may be missing the mark.

A deluge of shiny digital interactions show up under the headings of access, connectivity, communication, and awareness. However, with every additional data pipeline we feed into our consciousness, we turn the data stream into an unnavigable whitewater rapid.

Smartphones are an obvious example, but many other items have similar pitfalls. Complicated touch screen UIs in cars, notification-heavy personal computing environments, hyper-customizable home media setups, and digitized health metrics are also common culprits.  All promise simplicity and ease, and deliver complexity and confusion.

Nokia recently announced plans to release a new version of their iconic Model 3310 from 17 years ago. This is their response to a growing number of consumers who value simple over smart when it comes to phones. The original 3310 was known for legendary durability, overall simplicity, and generous battery life. Recognizing that those three features are lacking among most smartphones, Nokia decided to give it a try. So could it be that repackaging dated technology will become a solid strategy? Does the fact that Nokia is stepping back into the feature phone market prove that there are enough consumers tired of being connected?

Perhaps there’s something to be learned here. While marketing teams and product developers are partially to blame for digital exhaustion, they can also be a force to alleviate it. It’s worth remembering that “human bandwidth” is a limited resource. So having items in our lives that help relieve digital exhaustion may become increasingly important. Maybe your next project could provide customers with sanctuary from the hyper-connected maelstrom.

Your business could offer the next oasis customers crave merely with the application of simple features over a confusion of “bonus” features. In a complicated world, keeping it simple might just set you apart.

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