In conceptualizing content –rich web sites, interactive exhibits, mobile learning applications and other digital interactive media, a key question we always need to answer is: What is the takeaway? In other words, if a user only takes away one idea or concept from this interaction, what should it be? We know it’s critical to clearly define takeaways. Lovely as it is to imagine that users will spend extended periods of time exploring our content in depth, the reality is that most users will touchdown briefly on a web site, or pause for a short time at an interactive exhibit in a museum setting. In a world of “continuous partial attention”, where users are bombarded with a constant stream of distractions and are continuously paying “partial attention in an effort NOT TO MISS ANYTHING” (Linda Stone), it is essential that we focus on our key message and communicate that message clearly and powerfully. That message, the one idea or concept or impulse that the user will take away from his or her interaction with what we have created, is the takeaway.
Now I know this is not a unique use of the term. If I do a Google search on the term “takeaways” (or “take-aways”), I’ll get a list of results like this:
Obviously these folks are using “takeaway” in the sense I am: the important concept or idea that sticks with you from a presentation, event, publication or experience. Yet when I search online – (for example at dictionary.com, thefreedictionary.com, wordnet, answers.com, Wikipedia, etc.) – this usage is no-where to be found. What gives? And given that there doesn’t seem to be an established definition for this usage, how about this one:
Takeaway ( n. ) (also, Take-away): the key concept, idea or message that an individual retains following an experience.