IDF – Web Communication Course – Question 3
This time, The Interactive Design Foundations asked for up to a half a page about how we could improve our site’s Beauty, Proximity, and Similarity (three aspects of Attractiveness). And also how we could reduce our site’s Uncertainty (because if people are going to want to form a relationship with you, you need to reduce their uncertainty about you). The whole thing has to do with encouraging users to form a relationship with your site and business.
How did the boys do this time?
Not to great. Came on real strong with the metaphysics, but ran into some difficulties with the practical applications of their great Truths.
BW & AW Answer:
Beauty is Truth is Goodness is Justice, and the spot within each human moment where these ineffables run together is the same spot where Love explodes and is all. The wise see Beauty bursting through all things. That doesn’t mean they think all things are equally worthy. Beauty bursts through all things, and should be shared, and the way to share Beauty is to open hearts and minds to Beauty, and the way to do that is to encourage the growth of inner space: to encourage peace and togetherness and watchful kind joy. In individuals and groups, the values that promote such space are Beauty, Truth, Goodness, Justice, Love–those eternal directions that words cannot perfectly capture but to which words can nonetheless meaningfully point.
Proximity is convenience: is this relationship there for the taking?
Proximity is also welcomness (or at least we can roll it into this category, since the research didn’t mention that critical part of attraction. We form deep bonds with immediately family members partly because they are always around and partly because there is a dome of welcomness over the relationship: “come what may and annoying as everyone here is, we all accept the notion that we are in this together”. Since “we are all in this together” is actually not just true within families, but is in fact a great spiritual Truth spanning and yoking together all sentient beings, there’s no reason that we cannot expand that dome of welcomness so that it encompasses all of creation–it is just a matter of growing in wisdom. As wisdom grows one sees that we all flow together off of the one Light that shines through everything.
Similarity is, at the surface level, shared culture: shared notions about what is cool, what is interesting, how to put things, what is funny, what is right, how politics should go, how religion should be done. But at the deeper level, similarity is shared human Truth: what really matters is the Light within that alone knows what-actually-matters and how we can move in accordance with what-actually-matters. Therefore, the wiser we are, the more we grasp that we all share this Light and the longing to understand, follow, and flow off of it better.
From the foregoing, it is clear that to the wise, Beauty is everywhere, proximity is unavoidable, and similarity undeniable. Therefore, the best design will be that design that encourages the most wisdom in its users. But how can design encourage wisdom? It must be wise itself: relentlessly aware, honest, clear, kind, joyful, kindred.
But how can our website be wiser? As it is now, the site is a few silly introductory pages for several products: the site itself, an unreleased book and some possible future books, a few novelty items, and then various writings that I’ve tossed up over the last five or six years and which landed somewhere on the blog. We need to make at least a version of the book that is very readable, and we need to make it very easy to avoid falling down into the miles of verbiage. But yet we still need some way for users to see what is available. Maybe if we made the introductions to each product on the landing page into one sentence in bold with an anchor tag to reading more about that topic. How is that wiser? Well, it would be a little clearer. And how to make the site more aware? How to get a site to admit to itself and others what it is up to? What about cartoons with rollovers that reveal their underlying trick (ex: “Buy me because reading me will make you better looking and/or closer to more good looking people. Look at me: I’m reading this book and I am gorgeous!”)? That might get people thinking a little bit about how media encourages their own inner errors and thus guides them away from wisdom. But how to get them to really question the value of our product? What about our silly, back-handed, too-cool-for-school style: how do we make people aware of the deceit within that? And yet we feel that on the whole they should forgive us and work with us, because we are trying to be honest and kind–how to lay out our case for that forgiveness honestly? Obviously, we can release the answers to these questions and otherwise be transparent about our process, but we’re trying to make the landing-page itself wiser. Perhaps we could add an anti-advertising section at the bottom that links to both our advertisements and our misgivings about advertising. I think lots of banners festooned on the main page that upon rollover read “We can’t do it! We can’t get it right! We’re trying to make a perfectly decent and forthright product, but the little foolishnesses within us prevent our success!!!” Maybe that would get across our belief that honesty and kindness are the goals and also our confession that we’ve fallen short and also our intention to keep trying.
Consumer uncertainty can be reduced with a FAQ page, as well as a page on our attempts to be open, complete with links to info on what we are doing with our money (supposing any money was being made), what we’d like to accomplish, and what we wish we could get away with.
Answer from Bartleby Willard and Andy Watson to some extremely difficult questions posed by The Interactive Design Foundation.