My instructor for Writing for the Web asked us to read Sharon Lee’s Human-to-Human Design article and look at Lee’s site, Richapplefool. Lee offers four tenets for winning over an audience: tell me a story, engage me, inspire me and enchant me.  We were asked to comment on her approach and if we though it was practical, achievable, the perfect solution or a bit “off the wall.” Also, what types of websites would benefit from this approach? Or is it just “too cutsey”.

After reading Sharon’s article, I think her approach is practical and achievable but not necessarily the perfect solution. I feel that these four tenets for winning over an audience, tell me, engage me, inspire me, and enchant me, are not just exclusive to the web but underlie or are interwoven in marketing and consumer behaviour approaches/strategies with respect to positioning and knowing your audience to deliver what audience wants in a way they will understand.

Visiting a website is meant to be an experience – to ensure that the experience is an enjoyable one and one that will make the visitor want to come back again and even tell others about the site is what designers, writers and marketers should strive for.

Website are a key marketing medium, created for people. The exercise of creating personas earlier in this course, helped going beyond the broad demographics and creating individuals that embodied the main characteristics of our site users. From doing this, you (a designer or writer) can then imagine yourself as this user and going through the steps and thought process they would when at the website. This will help cater the message and interaction.

From Sharon’s article it seems that the inspire and enchant focus on the design elements while the tell and engage are more for writing. Perhaps this is a way to join the graphic designers and web writers towards a common goal ?

I agree with the view that the user wants to be respected and understood, however feel that this is true for any individual regardless of medium – not only online but in-person, in store, on phone etc. If you go to a place where you are respected/valued and understood, your experience will be a positive one.

I think the tell, engage, inspire and enchant approach would be particularly useful for informational sites for products or services. It may not be enough for sites where online purchasing is the main goal.

From the comments people made, many wanted to see concrete examples – but the tell me, inspire, engage and enchant means different things for different people. I thought that Sharon’s website Richapplefool,might demonstrate elements of her approach voiced in the article, however while it was a very creative and artistic way to display information, I did not really connect with the site or feel a desire to browse more after reaching the home page. The story was not clear and I was not sure why/how the site was relevant to me. I felt the site was presenting what she had to offer but not in a compelling way (perhaps visually but not much beyond that) – In my opinion I don’t feel her site demonstrates the tell, engage, inspire, enchant concept effectively.

One comment I identified with strongly was the one made by RUTHLESS MIND, post #40

“Our interfaces may be digital, but our audience is always human. Failure to consider the User—what she thinks, what she wants, what she wishes she could do—is both arrogant and nearsighted. When both the design and development are tailored to actual people, the closer we get to “human-to-human” design.

Once upon a time, the world of Direct Marketing taught me something valuable: never underestimate the power of data. I was always surprised by the valuable information it provided. “Do people really think that way?” Yes they do. And either set about to understand them or get out of the business.”

I also see some links between the four tenants and the 10 principles of advertising by Bill Bernbach.

If these principles are applied to interfaces where the user is put first (not the visual or the message) and the creators learn how users really think then great websites will manifest from there AND Websites that truly understand the user will thrive.

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