Yesterday I happened to see one-hour video on the evolution of the Internet (some old archive of Ken McCarthy … I think he’s a guru when it comes to the Internet), innovations points which occurred in 1994 the year the medium was announced, to see this video makes you remember things Moreover it shows that some people knew to predict exactly what’s going to happen, they also pointed out what the purpose of the web is, one of the things that I liked was the browser- even before they called it a browser, the browser was there for one purpose – to allow the ability to interact in a Simple, easy and fun way with information and users.
Simplicity and Web Identity (it’s an hour+ video so try to hang in there)
It got me thinking , sailing with my thoughts on what we see today almost everywhere, you can see it on every site you stumble upon (well, maybe not each site but I think allot of them) and it’s not just websites, its every creative element that is on our browser it could be an ad or a promotional element. One cannot argue that simple is better than complex, that websites and landing pages should be easy to interact with , easy to understand ,for the common people , for those who are not internet savvy, we encounter such websites all the time (forgive me… I am trying to exaggerate a little in order to illustrate a point) Why do these copywriters and designers have difficulty keeping it simple?
I will try to address three specific and important channels:
- Copy (copywriting)
There is allot to say about each one but I’ll try to keep it very short and simple.
I believe that simplicity is one of the key elements of the creative process (design) or copywriting and it’s the result of a sophisticated thinking, when we discuss web simplicity we realize that it’s hard to achieve the right balance , it’s a very emotional task and everyone have something to say about it , the balance between right and wrong , good and evil , graphic design and copy VS. Usability. We try to target everyone,”touching” every segment…it’s hard no doubt but there are ways to achieve that balance.
A very good example is HTMl, a technical example of the html language which was supposed to give expression to textual elements and not necessarily graphic elements, it seems that it worked against them from the beginning (designers I mean )…the ultimate battle – designers VS. UI experts ans SEO’ers.
Html is just one example , flash is another , we want to create an emotional ride for our users , enhance their experience , in a textual based environment flash generates many problems (and I am referring to search engines that knows how to read text – so primitive wouldn’t you say?) Difficulty in use, search engine indexing problems, difficulty managing and difficulty in combination with other network components or technologies, these are all examples … human equation is pretty amazing … We created the ultimate “disagreement”.
Designers or copywriters operate according to very strict rules and this is in order for the site to work properly (an excellent example is the world of search engine optimization that requires many rules to be maintained) and we all know that copywriters have a “free spirit”… they love the freedom and the ability to decide, to create their own, they do not like when we censor them or edit their work it is certainly a paradox.
In order to create harmony between two opposing principles we’ll have to think carefully where is that point where all is balanced, it is important to understand that the impact on the brand is critical, there is no doubt about that, apart from a useful design there is a wide channel of brand activities the “surrounds” the website, one of the first places where the consumer meets with our brand is on the home page or the specific landing page within the site, this page must be clear and focused, a page which explains in no uncertain terms that the consumer is in the right place, if the site will be complex and not obvious or easy to use = we lose a customer (and sometimes it can be harmful, people tend to talk and spread their thoughts to their friends –we don’t want that especially if they don’t like what they see) If it’s a positive user experience it’s pretty clear that one wants to share the experience with those close to him, the process of deciding where balance should be.
There is a name to this process , we call it web identity, good and true identity is an identity which does not contain a conflict between usability and the brand’s messages , a nicely designed logo does not constitute an identity, identity is much more complex than what we say it’s more about what we do, it’s not just about the colors and words, the new media world produces over time more and more new insights, new design/creative rules , grammatical rules – we have to give it the proper attention, we can see how graphic rules are created and insights regarding the use of colors or layers, generic and dynamic sites that can change quickly compared with the slow ones we have seen at the past, a definition of fonts, creating a visual map that is immediately understandable, user-oriented processes, we experience new and innovative ways to communicate with potential customers …Always remember that all is true but one must combine Action & Words , don’t talk the talk , try to walk the walk.
Someone wise told me always to strive to keep it short/stupid simple, sites should be simple as possible and in order to obtain good results with minimal means, at this playground we find the copywriter becoming more and more significant, the best example is the world of search engines, if your ad doesn’t create attention – no one would click on it. The writing should be simple, clear, contains benefits and solutions to the problem or need … And then and only then communicate the features to our customers, functions or technology – that’s less interesting to them… in marketing we sell an experience – remember that.
Copywriting perhaps is one of the most difficult arenas today.
Simplicity Specialization means to stop with all the blah .. Blah … The commercial or corporate words , the vague buzz words, Saying it at eye level and clear, successful web sites will be funny (being funny is the most powerful tool in my opinion) in a world where users become smarter and more sophisticated, we must find new and powerful ways of communication, the only way to stand out from the crowd.
It’s Important to understand that simplicity is not that obvious, it is to achieve awareness, targeting, only one who knows what he does know how to do it in a simple clear way, there is no magic solution or formula here, there is no secret recipe… Whether it’s the copy Whether it’s the design, usability or even our marketing strategy, if we managed to speak to our customers at eye level, turning the browser experience or any other contact point with our customers to a fun experience than we succeeded in getting our web identity.