Do you remember when news was only in print and on the TV? Then came the internet. CNN.com would have all the latest news on demand, a simple click or two away. Things are changing faster than ever. This week I have been really thinking about blogs and RSS feed readers. For a few years I was really big into google reader, and I subscribed to 200 or so RSS feeds. Designers, Firms, Gallery sites, Businesses, Authors, etc. Anything I found useful or insightful consistently, I would subscribe.
In the last year or so, my RSS readership loyalty has dropped like a rock. I went from checking in to google reader a few times a day, to a few times a week, to now maybe 2 – 3 times per month, usually out of some odd self obligation. What’s interesting, is that the content hasn’t become less interesting, I’m just overwhelmed with information. The mediums have changed. Twitter and facebook feeds now dominate the landscape. I don’t think I’m alone either.
So what does this have to do with design, the web and small businesses or non profits? Everything. So as I was analyzing this over the week, I was thinking about the content. The content is still there, just the method changed. First I used to visit sites for updates, then RSS, now its twitter and facebook. Here is there interesting fact, with each change, the content headline, the call to action gets less visually stimulating.
Back when you manually checked a site for news, you had photos, graphics, buttons, etc. Then in RSS you still had some of that, but only what was IN the post. No pretty site frame, logo or nav bar. Now, you hve the headline and maybe a small intro in 140 characters or less. That’s a big change to entice your dedicated traffic to actually reading your content.
So what about my site? Well I am still a firm believer in a well designed, well planned and well constructed site that meets your needs and goals. But more importantly these days your content matters more than ever. The headline, the sub headline, the first few sentences all matter 10x more.
So as you have us make your awesome website, remember we can’t write killer content for you. We can work with a copywriter to help shape it, but ultimitly the source of info is you. Want people to read your stuff? Well, think about the headline, in 140 characters or less, and what the call to action is to get the user to read on. Your users attention span is smaller than ever.
Before we began, $60 per month seemed a little steep for a 6 year old’s karate lessons. My wife took him to the first few sessions and came back with such glowing reports about the instructor that I had to go check it out for myself. Turns out the dude is very good… and not just at the butt kicking part. He smiles with the kids, learns people’s real names, places jokes in the middle of sessions for the parents, stays firm but friendly and gently employs an “evil pickle’” (a padded green baton) to test the children on their acquired techniques. It isn’t easy to maintain the attention, interest and respect of both 6yr. olds and also adults all while delivering REALLY good karate instruction.
There are defects in his business model to be sure but, I was reminded how personal, high quality and friendly leadership goes a really long way when setting value. Once I experienced the karate lessons I was happy to only be paying $60/mo.
*** Oh, and just so you don’t write this guy off as a fun, groovy kid teacher, I want to mention that his dojo wall is line with his world class accomplishments and articles from every major media source highlighting his personal accomplishments.
[Ryan writes on leadership development at www.RedBikeLeader.com]