Why do we want people to be digitally literate?

A digital interface is the fastest way of disseminating messages, providing services, and getting services. Users with access to digital devices who are able to connect with your platform, understand it, and use it to feed their motivations and solve their problems are going to make great long-term clients and help you build your brand. (More reading: Online Branding: Why It’s So Important). If you cannot understand their pre-digital literacy behaviors and fail to create a host for them to become digitally literate on your site, you’ll risk losing them.

Why do so many of the Adobe products look so similar?

Adobe Audition CC 2017

Figure 1 Adobe Audition CC 2017

Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017

Figure 2 Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017

Why does Adobe do such a great job at creating so many tutorials on their products?

Adobe wants to make sure that users feel comfortable and familiar across all platforms and can continually become more educated on their products. (I’m sure they have other reasons as well, but these are a few of them.)

  • Digital literacy is not teaching everyone how to use any digital device or platform
  • When you host an environment for digital literacy you know the behavior and logic of your users, you understand their motivations, and you are solving their problems
  • If a consumer or user become digitally literate on your site you’ve increased the odds that they will be a longtime user or consumer

Today we are all expected to be somewhat digitally literate and it’s becoming more and more of a requirement in society. I believe that the term “digital literacy” takes on a different meaning depending on the person you ask and what circles they live and work in. It’s a socially developed skill that occurs when a personal interest and motivator meet with a problem to be solved.

Take for example a young man looking for his first job. He walks into Mc”Any” and asks for an application. He is told to fill out an application online. He goes home, connects to the digital interface for the Mc”Any” Corporation. He has never seen their platform and almost backs out because his mom is screaming at him to mow the lawn, but since 89% of all minimum wage, candidates have used a Microsoft Word document the software developers for Mc”Any” have placed buttons accordingly. The motivator and problem combined with the integration of the predetermined behavior of the target demographics have quickly created a digitally literate candidate.

People in the business of software development and in analytics consider how the brain might logically react to a digital interface. This must be combined with the target demographic to determine logic for a region or age. A 90-year old might be better at navigating her digital thermostat with a single step command, whereas a person a little younger will be able to logically connect a layered system with steps that branch logic. The maker of a fancy digital thermostat might place the essential functions like “On – Off – Up – Down” on the top so a person not literate in branching logic can still access the basic features of the device, but then have an extensive network of other thermostat capabilities built in a menu for those who can.

Simply looking at big numbers and data isn’t enough. Considering the user and how they are going to react to what a developer places in front of them will create a user that can feel comfortable. Companies, brands, and anyone in any type of business should want to host platforms that promote digital literacy amongst their users to become part of the digital social circles where their consumers live.

Use analytics on target demographics to promote digital literacy:

  • What platforms are your users on every day and how is that interface laid out
  • Think like a software update and have a change oriented mindset when it comes to your site – updates are a good thing because it means you are listening to your users
  • Collaborate with your team members, get feedback from people to add to the analytics

Translate SEO tactics into digital literacy:

  • Using things like meta data and trending content drive users to your site based on how they think, what they want, or how to solve their problems – once you get them there you need to incorporate that same thought process into keeping them on your site and driving them into action
  • Creating a Hero, Hub, Hygiene approach can promote SEO and digital literacy while at the same time drive people to your brand creating conversation, engagement, and action. Ingeborg van Beusekom a Senior Marketing Communications Manager at SAP writes a great article on this topic for Digitalist Magazine
  • In optimizing all of your social media sites you often have a choice of layout, links, and wording and this is where you have another opportunity integrate features that promote your users to become more literate across all of your platforms

Have you ever downloaded an app and then deleted it without using it? Have you ever gone to a website and then backed out because you couldn’t understand the first site you landed on?

As if there already wasn’t enough to think about in the world of digital communication strategy, do remember to include digital literacy in your digital development processes. The goal is always to allow a new user to join in at any touch point and navigate a system without becoming discouraged and leaving. Then to host an environment that promotes the literacy of existing users so they become more invested in your brand and it becomes part of their life. It’s through giving digital literacy consideration that you can further develop these methods to go along with all of your other strategies to be as successful as you can be.

Kristi Pelzel is a Corporate Communications Consultant based in Washington, D.C.  Her education and experience is the perfect combination of creativity and analytics, strengthening each other giving her the ability to be a great storyteller, and journalist, with a data driven foundation. Having a background as a successful small business owner and then having worked in corporate and broadcast media for a combined 10+ years brought out her passion for corporate communications. This drove her to a BA degree in Communications and Digital Technologies with a minor in Motion Picture Television and an eventual shift to her role today working for well-known non-profit and private organizations in the U.S.

From creating media, like digital videos and podcasts, collaborating and leading teams on social media campaigns, to developing UX and CX Journey Maps her skill set is diversified in both technical and non-technical abilities. To read more tips and insights you can find her and follow her on Linkedin