A common theme that has been discussed on this site over the past couple of weeks is how design can tell a story and yet so often websites don’t do a good job of conveying that. I try to do a decent job of showcasing designs here that are more than a pretty design, but it is still hard to tell a great story when you have other stakeholders involved.
Looking at the picture above you subconsciously already have a story in your mind. It is amazing the effect a great picture can have on a person and yet when sites use images it is for pretty things or have absolutely nothing to do with the message. The great thing about the web was the promise of multimedia. If you went back to the 1960s and told an advertising agency, publisher or graphic designer that they would have a medium where they could create video, sound, moving image, beautiful photography, endless amount of content and user interaction, can you imagine how excited they would be? Could you even dream of the possibilities they would come up with?
We’ve grown to a place where we take the web for granted. We don’t understand what we have in front of us and I think only 0.0001% of the sites on the web have truly taken advantage of it all. Granted the medium is still in its infancy compared to print, but with so many people working on it you would feel that there would be better experiences.
Current offerings seem to fall under these categories:
- Prettier brochures than the brochure-ware sites in the past.
- Pure video mediums that offer nothing more than a video on a screen.
- Photo books that aren’t complemented with words that will enhance the story.
It is weird to me that it seems that with everything that we have at our disposal, we feel that we need to separate them all.
Here is a simple About.me page. Nothing more than a little bio and an image, but the image itself gives me insight into Kevin Rose that the words on the page could never do. Instead of competing against each other, they provide a nice complement to tell the Kevin Rose story. Stock photography can never tell the story and in fact usually detracts from any type of story trying to be told. This page could easily be enhanced with some audio or video, but could also be destroyed with their addition and therein lies the problem.
We have become so jaded with audio and video on a site that many times we shy away from it only because they weren’t used properly. Just because you have them at your exposure doesn’t mean you should use them, but these tools are so powerful it would be silly not to use them. Any great movie combines imagery and sounds to produce a great experience for the viewer. We are afforded more tools online and yet we don’t come close to emulating such an experience. I’m not sure why.
The web has to be more than just applications. It has to offer a better experience than what eBay, Amazon or Google offer by default. Does this mean that every site should be an epic experience shared with everyone? Not at all and that is the beauty of the web. It is so flexible, but most of the sites lean towards one of end of the spectrum when there should be more balance.
Imagine the story you could base around this picture? You have better stories for your next design, hopefully you find the right means to tell it.