A Fine Line Between Fluff, Storytelling and Dry Facts

running in a field of flowers

It’s refreshing to land on a website of a company that has clearly hired a good copywriter. The words have life. The phrases weave a story, paint a picture, create an aura. Someone thought words mattered enough, indeed, that they’d be the very thing to connect to the visitor.

That is until you can’t find a clear explanation of what the business does. You dig through the fluff not finding the information you need. You wonder if you’re stupid or if it was intentional on the part of the company or if someone didn’t care enough to make it easy on you.

There are businesses that deliberately create mystery and aura around a product or service just like the TV commercials that make you want to frolic in that field of flowers even if you don’t know what they’re advertising.

But it’s a rare business that can get away with that.

And advertising isn’t branding. Branding is meant for building long-term, trusting relationships.

Then there are websites that totally underestimate the value of delight. They rely on just the facts ma’am to describe the work they do, forgetting that people make decisions based on emotions first, then they follow up with rationale.

If I’m looking for an accountant, sure, I need someone to prepare my tax forms and inform me of any changes to the tax code. But I might first like to know the human side of her business, who she prefers to work with and why, why she’s decided to devote her life to crunching someone’s numbers and how she delights in taking the pain out of the most painful day of the year. That’s the kind of storytelling that distinguishes a ho-hum presentation from a humanizing one.

Caveat: that story shouldn’t be a fire hose of information limited to an about page, but instead, should appear in spirit throughout the website.

Delight doesn’t have to be knee-slapping funny or jaw-dropping beautiful. Delight can be as simple as showing that you understand the fears, aspirations, challenges or needs of the person visiting your site. You can do this through words, through the thoughtful way you organize information so it’s intuitive to find and through using labels your visitor would use and not your company’s internal jargon.

If you’re going to take someone on a frolic through a field of flowers, make sure they end up, continuously, at well-marked signposts that point them in the direction they need to go. And that means truly understanding what they came for.

(Image: lambertwm)

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