Why people are losing trust in the media — and advertisers

Close-up of a newspaper

Each weekday I share some of my favourite articles about digital, design and UX on social media. I have decided to share the highlights on this blog — reviving the digital design digest I published for a few months last year.

Visit this blog on the last Wednesday of the month to get the latest digest.

For more links as and when I post them, follow me on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

Medium, and the reason you can’t stand the news any more

This article is a little lengthy, but it is a vital read.

Amid all the fuss about fake news, the journalism profession continues to do remarkably little introspection on the media’s own role in creating the current political climate. My views on this could fill a whole blog post of its own, and one day I might even publish it.

This article outlines exactly how the business models pursued by most publishers ultimately cause people to lose trust in the media. By filling their webpages with junk adverts, it has become increasingly difficult for people to distinguish quality output from paid-for chaff.

…news outlets are “renting” their credibility to advertisers by muddying the waters for what is “news” and what is “advertising.”

People’s desperate loathing of advertising has led to a horrible race to the bottom among publishers. Which leads us onto the next item.

Why the internet has made advertising irrelevant

Yet more bad news for advertisers comes in the form of research that has shown that people do not trust advertising.

Advertising messages which the brand itself controls – including not only traditional “ads”, but also brand-owned social and other modern approaches – were rated as the least influential form of information for people when forming their opinions…

Well, the implication is clear, right? A brand has to be actually good to succeed in today’s market; to provide genuine value not already provided amply elsewhere.

It’s ugly, but it works: On designing for usability

Some of the world’s most successful websites are also some of the ugliest. This is because what truly matters to users about a product is not how it looks, but how well it helps them solve a problem.

Your job is to help the user achieve their goal. Navigating an interface is never the user’s goal. If you’d done your job right, the app would only do one thing, and would do it very well, and would do it all on one screen.

How to proofread an essay: explaining why usability studies only need 5 participants

UX people are familiar with the claim from Jakob Nielsen, the usability expert, that you get the best results from testing with just five users. But we may have run into difficulty explaining to others why this is the case — or even convincing ourselves about the logic.

This article outlines a great analogy for this: having people proofread your essay. By thinking like this, it becomes easy to understand why testing with five users works.

With just a few people, you can capture the stand-out issues that most readers will notice, make significant changes based on those findings, and discover areas that should be explored further.

Bye bye PDF, hello HTML!

One of the biggest challenges of running a large organisation’s website is colleagues who simply upload a bunch of PDFs and call that web content.

Often they only do it because that’s what is easiest for them because it suits their existing workflow. They have never thought about it from the user’s point of view.

This straightforward blog post might be one to forward on to those who continue to cling onto their PDFs. It outlines the three key reasons why you should be publishing in HTML rather than PDF.


Don’t forget — to see these links and more as and when I post them, follow me on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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