Content driven interaction

Recently I read an article on 37signals that touched on a subject where I find myself being confronted with more and more, “…focusing in on the true essence of the page… it’s epicenter”. After years of designing and building marketing and commercially driven communication websites I find myself moving towards building websites with this kind content driven interaction.

Promotional websites are largely non interactive websites in the sense that they are very passive. A bit like television, which always seems to be selling a particular brand of happiness to a particular group of sad couch potatoes. Like advertising all you need to know is who you are selling to and where and when you can give them your pitch. Okay that’s a slightly flippant way of putting it but to a large degree it’s true. It’s also kind of true on the web. Except on the web you could give folks your sale pitch morning noon or night wherever they happen to be. The only reason promotional websites haven’t taken off like a mad man on the web is because the ‘where’ was the wrong way round. You have to go looking for the advertising yourself. And that only happens when the ad men come up something that has hordes of passive consumers crawling off their couch to see the ‘must - see - this - or - I’ll - die - a - poorer - man - if - I - miss - it’ website. In these cases interaction is often minimal and a no-brainer to navigate through, even though some still manage to mess that up.

Anyways… I’ve been lucky enough not to have ended up doing only promosites. Sites that require a bit more feedback from the user to get them going is much more fun. Okay web forms are a severe pain in the jacksy to build the webstandards way but it’s all we’ve got for now.
Getting users to use a website which uses some kind of interactive tool on a page is already difficult in of itself. You have to let the users do what they came for. It is that what drives the users motivation and it is that what will hold the users attention. Webpages should be geared around that need, that appeal, that purpose or that epicenter as the boys and girls of 37signals would put it.

It’s funny, it’s ironic really because that sounds an awful lot like how to do good advertising. Therefor, I for one would like to see more art directors doing the web. Advertising gave television direction and may end up doing it for the web too.

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