So I recognize that my title is obnoxiously long. I also recognize that I’m violating all the rules I spend my days championing. (Short titles. Most important sentence first. Action in the first 5 words. Keywords.)
I don’t really care.
This is my blog. About 8 other people read it. On a really good day. I can ramble if I wanna.
Okay, I feel better.
Anyway, I’m decompressing from day one of DC’s An Event Apart conference. The whole day was fantastic. But the parts that have (so far, anyway) really stuck with me were talks by Andy Budd and Karen McGrane.
Andy spoke about persuasive web design. A lot of what he discussed is stuff that real designers (aka, those who actually learned about design in some sort of formal setting) probably already know. Specifically, he talked a lot about the psychology of persuasion. There were lots of mentions of various cognitive biases and/or shortcuts that we humans are prone to making. You know, stuff like “halo effect” and “selection bias” and “loss aversion” and “operant conditioning.”
I quite like this sort of thing anyway, so it’s probably no surprise that I quite enjoyed the talk. In fact, some of the things that (I suspect) you get in Advertising 101 just hadn’t ever occurred to me. One illustrative example: Ever notice how supermarkets often change the flooring in their luxury goods aisle? You know, like the floor goes from tile to hardwood. Partly that’s just to signal that, Hey You’re In Fancy-Pants Land.
But there’s also a more subtle reason going on.
See, your shopping cart makes regular clickety-clacking sounds as you go across the tile. When you hit the hardwood, those clickety-clacks get faster (because of how hardwood is narrower than tiles and all.) So it sounds like you’re going faster. Which makes most of us slow down. It’s totally unconscious. But it works.
Pretty neat, huh.
Toward the end of the day, Karen spent an hour chatting with us about adaptive content (aka, the idea that you create once, publish everywhere.)
I’m going to keep the recap here pretty brief, largely because I’m mulling over a much longer post on the topic in the coming days. Suffice it to say, though, that I spent much of Karen’s talk wanting to stand up and cheer. Her theme throughout the talk was a simple one:
Content must be separated from display.
It seems like an easy concept. Indeed, in principle, this is what content management systems were supposed to do. Only then we shoved WYSIWYG editors into our CMS. We used those to shove images and tables inline, then ended up with a whole pile of unstructured data than can’t easily be reused. And that’s if we were lucky. For a lot of publishers, print is still king, and we online types are trying to shoehorn print processes into an online world.
Karen offered a three-step strategy for moving our sites in the direction of adaptive content:
- Write for the chunk, not the page.
- Demystify metadata.
- Build a better CMS workflow.
Easy, right? Hey, wait, I have to give up my wysiwyg editor? WTF?
So those are the big takeaways for today. Tomorrow brings (among other things) Kristina Halvorson on content strategy and Whitney Hess on the philosophy of UX. Hey, look at me all excited about a conference on philosophy! It’s like I’m a starving academic again.