How important is the actual content interest to a site? Is there such a thing as "too many words," like when Mozart was told his music had "too many notes" (Amadeus, 1984) and people can only hear so many notes at a time?
If the content uses SEO writing to move up in the rankings, doesn`t that same redundant writing also then turn off the reader? Is white space important, or is it the organization of the words to produce a "curiosity factor?"
Do you think someone like Clive Cussler or Steven King or Sandra Brown would make a good writer for a Web site? Should we consider a Web site more like a novel, not like a commercial or sales brochure?
I`ve been having an interesting time following links to people who want a critique of their new Web site. At the same time, I`ve been learning the ins and outs of SEO writing, and the principles behind SEM (Search Engine Marketing). "TonerDesign" had an exceptional point about how a search engine (SE) is like a visually-impaired human being, and I got to thinking about that as well.
Throughout these forums people continually speak to the issue of using a Web site for marketing, drawing traffic, increasing sales, capturing information, and generally doing business. There`s a growing push toward the value of SEO, which indeed is valuable, and how proper optimization can move your site up in the results pages of a search engine....for right now!
Logically, if everyone uses SEO, then something else will determine your ranking. If all pages have been 100% optimized, then all pages return to "equal," per se, in terms of being found by the query. Is that all there is? Of course not, and many SuN members with Web expertise have spoken to the issues of number of clicks, time on a site, linked connections, and so forth.
It`s my thinking that the entire computer experience, at work or at home, is like "highway hypnosis." l`d guess most of us remember a situation where someone talked with us for half an hour while we were working on something or IMing, doing email, or some supposed simple task. We nodded, thought we understood, thought we paid attention, until we turned away from the machine. They asked, "So, what do you think?" And we realized we hadn`t a clue what the hell we`d just been discussing! Right?
I think it`s like a hypnotic state of both focused attention on the screen (not so much the content or thing we`re doing), and that wide-lens awareness of everything at once, like when we`re driving a car. It`s pretty much the generalized state of consciousness we`re in as we wander around in life, with a general sense of expectancy.
So how does a novelist capture the reader`s attention, then pull them into a book? The first sentence (or two or three) pretty much starts the "trance." Those sentences produce a question...simple, not a big mystery, but a question or puzzle. The reader wants to know the answer, or to see if they guessed correctly on the puzzle. It`s like if someone quickly says, "Hey...I gotta joke...wanna hear? It`s pretty hard to not say, "Sure...!"
But then comes the magic. We submerge into the first page of the book, getting to the end of it, and we have to choose to turn to page 2. Why? Good writers have just enough of a doubt as to what happens next that we say, "Oh hell...I can just read the next paragraph at any rate, I`ll just quickly turn the page. I wonder what comes next?"
At that moment, we have a shift in consciousness, then "wake up" into a whole new reality---the world of the story. Isn`t the Web site its own separate reality? Isn`t it like entering Willy Wonka`s Chocolate Factory, where all the rules and physics apply to that unique location in the world?
How much effort does it take in navigating, and what does "site navigation" actually mean? Consider eBay and Amazon, where you don`t have to think, to know what you`re doing. Then you suddenly realize (wake up inside the site) that you`re immersed in the site. Everywhere you look you can click, and it all explains exactly what will likely happen next. You just follow your curiosity.
I`m realizing how often I visit a site, but feel "too tired" or "overwhelmed" looking at all the tabs, menu items, click spots, and links. But I`m not! I`m not tired, and I`m not overwhelmed! I think it`s this "hypnosis" thing, where instead I`m relaxed! What feels like too much work is actually only my having to come out of a relaxed, unfocused viewing condition, to "work" at thinking.
I`m convinced that a good site captures the imagination, and works almost like a game. It pulls us in, then "somehow" flips us into a whole different reality---the world of only that particular site. What examples do you have of sites where you started only because of a Google result, then ended up spending half an hour wandering around? Wikipedia comes to mind for me, only because I like trivia and strange facts.