Marc Augé's concept of Non-Place and how it applies to websites

The concept of "non-place" originated with Marc Augé, a French ethnologist and anthropologist, in his book "Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity". It's a concept that can be adapted to user behaviour on a website.

Rita Russo
Oct 24 2023 • 2 min reading
Marc Augé's concept of Non-Place and how it applies to websites

Marc Augé explores the concept of "non-places" (airports, shopping centres, motorways, etc.) and explains how these spaces are characterised by anonymity and a lack of meaningful social connections. People often pass through all these places without ever establishing lasting relationships with them, or engaging in meaningful activities.

Augé believes that non-places can create a sense of dislocation and alienation in people, as people move through them without a strong sense of belonging. The entire analysis in the book serves as a critical examination of the dehumanising aspects of contemporary society, where people are increasingly defined by their movements through non-places.

Nowadays, this concept no longer applies only to physical places. Social networks or gaming are easily worlds in which people lose track of time and space, where many interactions are superficial and limited, lacking deep connections.

But can a website also be considered a "non-place"?
Yes, the concept can also be applied to inefficient websites, for example:

  • Transient nature: Websites are often visited for specific purposes. Their users want to find information or complete a task, such as reading an article or making a purchase, and if they can't, they leave the site. This transitory quality is similar to the way people move around airports or railway stations in the physical world;
  • Alienation: In the absence of a clear and well-founded UI/UX - User Interface/ User Experience - the user can feel overwhelmed and have the sensation that they are browsing in a loop, without a goal or purpose, abstracted from the reason that led them to enter the site;
  • Lack of identity: Many websites often lack a visual identity and opt for a generic design. As a result, they tend not to stand out from the competition and easily become a "non-place".

How can you prevent your site from becoming a "non-place"?

It's important to realise that not all websites fit into Marc Augé's concept of "non-place". By creating a unique identity, a positive UI/UX experience and responsive design, you can prevent your site from becoming a "non-place". A well-built website guarantees increased user interaction time within the site, and ensures that the user can find what they are looking for.

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