People are stupid and they don’t read?

Design & DevPeople are stupid and they don’t read?

People are stupid and they don’t read?


A ballsy statement you might say? It feels a little clickbatey right? Well it’s supposed to be memorable and create a conversation around the terrors of communication.

Design is all about communication. How do you communicate effectively to an audience that skims content and barely registers the visuals? This is the principle question of the media culture today. It has no definite answer but it does offer alot of opportunity to craft better more engaging copy and targeted visuals all to get to a point across to that viewer, where they will remember the experience in a positive way.

“One cannot not communicate.” Because every behaviour is a kind of communication, people who are aware of each other are constantly communicating. Any perceivable behaviour, including the absence of action, has the potential to be interpreted by other people as having some meaning.

When previously talking to my design teams I lead with that line which very much grabbed their attention. Especially when it was qualified. People/users/customers these days don’t give you alot of time to make your point. Whether this be in sales, marketing or design. So initially you need to step in-front of them to grab their attention and then lay out the value infront of them while they are focused on you.

Grab their attention at first…

Communication is hard. It’s hard because politics, design, marketing and more has become part entertainment and part informative medium to influence and to convince you for one party or another.

Vintage Lion matches advertising is a great example of building story that’s engaging, fun and sets the tone of the piece.

In copy-writing for product you are always searching for the right ‘tone of voice’. The sweet-spot of informative but fun and relatable text that resonates with users old and new while reiterating the value the product creates at multiple points. Effective copy and visuals can elevate the experience of the product and start building a relationship with viewers and users immediately. It can be the highlight of the experience or the reason people move off-site quickly.

World building with words and images

For your product you build a lexicon of communication. Key phrases, metaphors, artifacts that you deploy throughout the site and include in descriptions, notifications and feedbacks. These can be peppered throughout the entire site and threaded into the fabric of the company brand. You design a way of talking to your viewer that feels quintessentially unique to the product and the company.

Keeping in mind that people want just enough information to inform an action and keeping them moving forward on the site is so important. Exploration and action for first timers are always tricky to write and design for since you aren’t too sure of the context of this new user but you still need to design a flow for them. Whether you use personas or contextual flows to inform the content you still need to make sure that the copy and the visuals are consistent and they stay focused upon the task at hand.

Can you make an emotional experience that effects the viewer in a positive way? The best viral videos do this. They are effecting, surprising, shocking, aspirational and most are damn funny. That’s why they make an impact and draw the attention of the people viewing them. It makes them shareable and people are motivated to send them to people they know will appreciate and get it.

Is there a such thing as a viral product?

Pokemon Go screen from the iphone app

If you look at the ‘Pokemon Go’ phenomenon a few years ago I would say this fell in the category of a viral product. It’s had many definitions from ‘craze’ to ‘public menace’ but it had an undeniably addictive quality that at one point most of the world was hooked on.

The unique play-ability and the already established Pokemon franchise made for an experience that grasped everyone’s attention. Dropping users directly into the game with little contextual information this allowed for very little on-boarding and more users quickly dove deep into the game and kept returning (for at least that summer).

This really solidified the rise of the experience as key to winning over viewers/users/customers. The overall experience leaves a lasting mark of the people that use it. The populous is becoming more technically saavy and sees all the potential that comes with the technology they hold in the palm of their hand. They see the experience it offers and expect products, retailers and corporates to exploit this on their behalf.

Are people stupid and do they not read?

People are impatient for a unique experience and feel it should be immediate and communicated quickly. The valley between initial impression and moments of communication become smaller and smaller. It’s a demand we as communicators need to get ahead of. The retail industry is in the middle of a complete renewal and only the companies that see that the digital and the live is becoming the one blended experience.

This growing expectation has the potential to revitalise dying industries and offer new opportunities for jobs and for technologies. The realisation is that copy, visual and experience is the trilogy we need to find a perfect balance to keep our viewers engaged and coming back for more.

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Studio Nephronim,
Dublin, Ireland