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Information Roadblocks

I’m still surprised when I come across a website that intentionally puts up a roadblock for users who want to gain access to its information. What do I mean by roadblock? They come in varying degrees of annoyance - here are some examples I’m confident you’ve encountered:

  • Oh, you want to read this interesting article? First, you have to spend the next five minutes registering for a free account on our site. We know you just want to read the article and you’d probably come back to read more in the future, but we’re going to annoy you into leaving and looking the information up elsewhere.

  • You’d like to jot down this delicious recipe for Frito pie? Just type in this illegible CAPTCHA code before we allow you access. We need to prove that you are human and not some Frito pie-craving email spam malware code out to destroy the internet. (CHS is actually split on whether or not Frito pie really is delicious.)

  • Want to forward that important healthcare-related article to Grandma? Please fill out these survey questions before we let you do that. I’m not even sure what the point of this one is. I assume there’s some sort of revenue for the site associated with filling out these survey questions, but all it really means to me is that I’m not going to share the article with anyone. Here’s an actual example of this that I ran into just a few days ago.

It seems silly to put up barriers to content that you’re trying to deliver to the most people possible. It would be the same as if every McDonald’s in the country put up a 20-foot brick wall you had to climb over to get to the entrance … people would just go to Burger King.

If you want to grow an audience, if you want to grow your subscribers, you need the information you’re providing to be as easily accessible as possible. Chances are there is another source providing very similar, if not the exact same, content without all the hoops to jump through. By the way, here’s a recipe for Frito pie … roadblock free.

- Paul