Amplified Annoyance Within Confined Spaces

confined space

I was on a train earlier today, it was not my usual daily commute, but a much longer journey than I’m used to and I happened to be sat next to a man who would make the strangest sound when sipping his coffee.

I’m normally a very tolerable person, so this particular incident I will put down to a lack of sleep (Sadie – my daughter – was up several times in the night).

The sound began to irk me. The more I tried to ignore the sound, the more I was aware of it. The more I became aware of it, the more it seemed to grate on me.

The train was full. I was in my reserved seat. I had left my headphones at home (a big mistake on any given day, let alone today). Other than to leave the carriage and stand in a connecting aisle, I had no option, if I wanted a seat, to remain and endure the sound.

But this got me thinking.

If this had been any other, more open location, then I would probably not even be aware of the sound, let alone bothered by it. It was the confined space which was vastly amplifying the situation.

Which brings me to my point.

Websites/applications/digital products are all ‘confined’ spaces. They are immersive experiences between the user and the interface.

The smallest irritation can seem amplified and irritating to a user and if they want to successfully interact with your product, the annoyance can’t be blocked out or ignored.

If you observe users encountering an error, or complaining of a small step in a process which may seem very minor to you, or your development team, rethink.

It may be small to you, but in the confines of your application, it may not be so small to your user, it may even be enough that a user will give up and leave, because they can.

Digital products are not like full trains in that regard, there are empty seats just a search or download away.

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