consequences of engagement driven design - Saturday, January 7, 2023 at 07:14 UTC

In the 1980s, the 24 hour cable news cycle revolutionized the way we consume media. Suddenly, news was available to us around the clock, and networks were under pressure to constantly provide fresh content to keep viewers tuned in. This led to a focus on sensationalism and controversy in order to grab and hold onto people's attention.

Fast forward to today, and a similar trend can be seen in website design. With the proliferation of the internet, the competition for people's attention online is fierce. As a result, website design has become increasingly centered on engagement.

But what exactly is engagement, and how does it drive website design? Simply put, engagement refers to the amount of time that someone spends on a website or the number of actions they take while on the site. This can include things like clicking on links, scrolling through pages, or leaving comments.

In order to increase engagement, website designers use a variety of tactics. These can include using attention-grabbing headlines and images, creating content that is designed to be shared on social media, and using techniques like infinite scrolling to keep people on the site for longer periods of time.

However, the pursuit of engagement can have negative consequences. In the same way that the 24 hour news cycle led to a focus on sensationalism and controversy, the pursuit of engagement can drive website design in a direction that is more concerned with sensationalism and controversy rather than providing accurate and balanced information.

One example of this is the use of so-called "clickbait" headlines, which use provocative or misleading language to entice people to click on a link. While these tactics may be effective in increasing engagement, they can also contribute to the spread of misinformation and the further polarizing of public discourse.

In addition, the use of algorithms to personalize and tailor content to individual users can further reinforce existing beliefs and biases, leading to what is known as the "echo chamber" effect. This can create a feedback loop where people are only exposed to information that confirms their preexisting beliefs, leading to a further radicalization of their views.

Overall, while engagement-driven website design may be effective at keeping people on a site for longer periods of time, it can also have negative consequences in terms of the spread of misinformation and the further polarizing of public discourse. As a result, it is important for website designers to consider the potential downsides of their tactics and strive to create sites that provide accurate and balanced information.

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