According to Pew Research, texting is overwhelmingly the preferred method of communication for teens. Anecdotally, that seems pretty obvious, but I was not aware of the numbers involved, and how much other methods have waned. The teens and people under 25 that I know certainly are emblematic of this trend. If I send one of them an email, I get either no response at all, or maybe one that arrives in a month or two. Email is just so last century! Of course it’s possible that they just find me totally boring.
It occurred to me that this will have implications for those of us doing web development. If you’ve worked with clients, you know that communication is critical for having a job go well. Recently I am seeing more clients who will communicate via texting, and if it’s a simple answer to a short question, that’s perfectly fine, but if you have more than one question, or require significant input from the client, texting and smartphones are deadly. So projects take longer, and misunderstandings proliferate. Quality vanishes. I’ve written before about one client I had who steadfastly refused to ever talk on the phone, have an online chat, or Skype. Projects with him did eventually get done, but were irritating and always very slow, with so many corrections needed. I believe this trend will only increase – people are so addicted to their phones that they will continue working this way even if advised of the pitfalls. This is not good news. You get communication like this, but without the humor.
Communication Breakdown – OMG, It’s a Good Thing
But I did see an upside. As brand new web developers are minted, they will also want to do everything possible via their phone, thumb-typing on their tiny screens. That means that if a client emails one of these developers, they may get no answer at all, or maybe a one-word answer to a 5-part question. This client will not be pleased about that, and may fire the developer. And the developer may not even know he’s fired if it occurred via email. It would also be interesting to see the numbers of people trying to do web development or other business solely through Facebook. TMI taken in a special new direction.
So those of us who are willing to use multiple communication methods will have a distinct advantage. Not because we’re smarter or better, but simply because we answer requests, provide timely information, and facilitate communication.