Tell a Web Story

August 31st, 2006

I said before when reflecting on the movie DareDevil that story is king. It came back to me today as I was reflecting about what makes a good website. This analogy can be extended to good software as well. The elements of a good story are present in a good website.

So what are the elements of a good story? Basically they are:
  • Get the attention and interest
  • Draw the viewer / reader deeper
  • Connect to the emotions
  • Build up some tension
  • Resolve the tension (if you want)

I’m not drawing these basic elements from an instructional manual on what makes a good story, so there are many people in the world that could disagree with me. I just threw out the things that came to mind.

Ultimately, a good website will do all of these things. It starts from the link that directs the person to your website. There has to be something in it that interests them. Then they land on your website. Can you draw them deeper? Can you connect with their emotions? Maybe they already have some tension and that’s why they came to your site. Maybe they are thinking “I really need to find out how to handle my kids’ temper tantrums.” or “I have to get my debt under control!” or “How do I get my page to render properly in INTERNET EXPLORER”. Can you feel the tension? If you can relieve their tension, you may have just written the end of a good story.

On the other hand, a visitor to your site might have no tension, just interest. Your site can give them an interest in something new. Then the tension might just be the desire to learn more about this new thing.

Overall, I just noticed that good websites make an attempt to tell a story. On the other hand, there are a lot of websites out there that just post up information. I don’t think they are as effective. We all like to be grabbed and taken along for a ride in an interesting story. If you can do that, then your reader will gladly linger and explore your website and they won’t resent the time you just took from their fast-paced, hectic world.

Make the world a better place. Make your website a story!