Don’t Trick Your Audience

That’s a headline for a post that could be really long. Oops, adverb. I don’t have the Roundup loaded either. Maybe Monsanto does.

So do you feel mislead or tricked yet? I was doing some major procrastination, eating some strange mix with Cheetos and Sun Chips at the computer just now. Every single website I went to had flashing bits, pop ups and at least one very outlandish box that prevented me from seeing what was behind it until I either clicked it away or signed up for their unwanted newsletter – subjecting my inbox to further junk I’ll never read.

As a former web designer (then developer then master…) let’s review some basics, shall we?

  • Make content available fast. Don’t tease. Don’t trick. Don’t make them sign up, jump through hoops, answer questions, take polls or watch commercials. I’m going to repeat this because you may not understand it the first time.
  • People don’t read online anymore. They scan. At least with a computer. It gets worse with a tablet and even more brain dead with a smart phone. Get the to the point and if you don’t have one, rethink your content importance and relevance.
  • The web IS writing. Even YouTube videos have some writing to them. For blogs, story blurbs, descriptions, social media posts even titles – chose wisely, don’t be afraid to change, edit, revamp.
  • We’ve turned to making money off advertising and not ideas or content leading to ideas. 99.9% of websites out there are doing it wrong. But that’s a whole other segment on “new media”.
  • People very often turn to the web for information which in some cases narrows down to a specific type of help. Don’t promise help and not deliver.
  • Intrigue but don’t trick. Writing a book about an orange coloured monster who gathers cult status across a nation and becomes president? Then don’t promote that book or story by saying, “hottest read of all time…will take you on epic journey of self discovery”.
  • Don’t lay out a string of promises and then make the reader/customer/user do something in order to obtain it. At least minimize what they have to do. There are exceptions but this is why people abandon your content. They’re tired of visual noise, clutter and hoops to jump through.
  • Integrating flashing, bouncing, crowded, eye candy, attention blowing stuff? Well then you really missed my point. Go back to the top and start again.

Example to illustrate one or more of my points above:

This holiday season I turned to the internet looking for recipes. I would hit sites that had descriptions or flashy titles of “Best Bourbon Balls EVER”, “Mom’s homemade cherry pie”, “The fluffiest pancakes”. And yet when I clicked on them – I could not find the recipe. I went back and changed my search query to include “recipe”. All I was pulling up was articles that went on and on and on and had a lot of pointless jargon and stories and weeds and I could never make it to the end……because of pop ups, email newsletter sign up boxes, other floating boxes and a page – (that because of crappy code) – jumped around so much I had a seizure.

Where was the recipe? I don’t know. Maybe at the bottom. But I gave up. I turned to old fashioned PAPER cookbooks instead.

Don’t trick and tease. Yes, even in an erotic novel. Well, okay trick and tease but deliver the goods at some point. Deliver being the optimal word.

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