Have you got the look?
A pal of mine who works in the fashion business had her models splish-splashing about in the brand new Coalbrookdale fountain in Wigan’s Mesnes Park the other day. The guys who put it together are also restoring the incredibly ornate shelters around King’s Gardens here in Southport – there’s your link.
She’s launching a top model competition for that town in the not too distant future. It’s a great idea. It’s brilliant because people are obsessed with looks.
But that’s in the real world. In stark contrast, online the number one priority for anyone thinking about getting a shift on is user experience.
I was quizzed the other day by one of the family about why I was recommending plain and simple text as the header for their website. They were bamboozled by the notion that inserting a random series of images inserted alongside the website’s title would not bring them fame and fortune.
But think about this. We’re surrounded by information, ever-changing and at a rate faster every waking day. Who’s going to wait around for your precious web page to load when there’s already a hundred other – vastly quicker to appear – options in their sights?
And as the speed we consume information increases, the time we spend tethered to desks is shrinking. Whether that’s because we need to use up more shoe leather to do business, or do most of our web surfing on the toilet these days, is of scant importance; what matters is that mobile internet use is inexorably on the rise.
I’ve mithered you before about why I believe gov.uk has won countless awards. Sure, it pooh-poohs the accepted notion websites need to be flashy to attract more traffic – but that’s precisely why it’s being lauded as the defining example of how the internet should look.
If I was running a restaurant in Southport, the last thing I’d do is force my prospective customers to download my menu in PDF form. Have you ever tried reading one of these on a mobile phone? Do you know how easy it is to put that menu on a web page instead?
The reason why most of us got giddy with excitement when the internet was created was because it gave us hope of being able to easily access the world’s information. Even in our worst nightmares we couldn’t have hallucinated it would be responsible for the cinematic tragedy that is The Internship and in my mind the end of Vince Vaughn’s career, but Google, the company that inspired that movie, did at least turn our dreams into a reality.
There’s a reason why Google is regarded as the world’s favourite website, and not only because of its indexing capabilities. It’s simple. You don’t get lost. A big box, one click, boom – you’re there.
Same rules for Wikipedia. Forget your fancy-pants Flash movies and convoluted clicking marathons to find what you want. Jimmy Wales isn’t smart for marrying Kate Garvey: what he envisioned before 80,000 volunteers came on board to build the world’s encyclopedia was a simple way to know stuff.
So if you want to Shine Online, the future title of the column you’re reading, focus on what you do best. Make it findable. Stay simple. And leave the models to play in the fountain. That water doesn’t play nice with your laptop.