“The centre of a composition is not a building, but an empty space.” – Renzo Piano, Italian Architect and Engineer
I often forget that most people are not web literate beyond online shopping, social media and the odd Google search. My grandmother was buying slippers online from an iPad at 95 years old so I assumed everyone would take to it like a duck to water, but when it comes to deconstructing what people see in front of them, it’s like asking people to explain a magic trick. So it’s my job to break it down. Here’s Web Content 101, with the (ab)use of an insurance metaphor.
What’s the difference between the web page and the web content? Consider you have your buildings insurance, and you have your contents insurance.
Web designers and UX professionals can build a lovely building (website). They can make it structurally sound, make sure it gets as much natural light as possible (that would be a metaphor for driving traffic to your site. Cute, huh?) build a solid staircase (menu) and slap on the paint colours of your choice. But they can’t do this properly without a full understanding of what’s supposed to fit inside. Are they building a cute little cottage or a five bedroom detached house? If your big leather couch is important to you, you need to make sure you can fit it through the door before choosing that cute little cottage to live in.
On to content. An insurer once explained it to me this way: Imagine a giant picked up your home and shook it. What wall fall about? Your content is all the stuff that would fall about – at home and on your website. Mostly your furniture, or in digital, your copy, your images, your videos, your news feed – how you furnish your pages. It gets updated as and when. And I can now make a joke about it being sat-on for long periods of time, which my digital content colleagues will enjoy.
When people think about a website design or refresh, they rarely start with the content. They get preoccupied with the staircase, the front door, the types of window, that island in the middle of the kitchen that makes you feel like a domestic god or goddess. They want all the flashy, jazzy, wow factor. But users/guests just want to sit down on the goddam couch with a cup of tea, so stop trying to show them your new conservatory.
Digital consultancy begins at home
Feng Shui is important because it’s the space between the furniture that allows you to appreciate the room, to feel welcome to stay and look around, to notice the ornate table, the paintings on the wall, the quirky chaise-lounge. If the space is cluttered, no one wants to stay, and no one sees anything, because they get sensory overload. Visitors stay on your site for about 3 seconds, scanning for headings and key words before leaving if they can’t immediately see what they came for. They will hit the back button and you will have baked cookies for no guests. Give your content the space it deserves.
So what’s the most important conversation when you want a new website? Who you are. Who your guests are. And how to furnish your homepage in a way that makes them feel at home. Real digital consultancy starts here. It’s what many digital consultants call a hack day, or digital surgery – and it’s built around communication and empathy. Finding words that are you, capturing images that are you, developing video content that is you, and clearing out all the stuff that does not serve you.
“Always keep in mind that the strongest factor of your Feng Shui is you.” – Stefan Emunds