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Blind Men, Elephants and Web Design

Beneath the Cover, publishing, marketing, writing a book, platform, gravity well, website strategyMake sure you give your audience everything it needs to know who you are.

Let me illustrate. There’s an old story about six blind men and an elephant. One day, six blind men encounter an elephant. Being blind from birth, they have no idea what an elephant looks like. Each man reaches out to touch the animal. The firs blind man sticks his hand out and feels the elephant’s side. “An elephant is like a big wall,” he says.

“no,” says the second blind man, who’s wrapped his hands around the elephant’s tusks. “an elephant is like a spear” he says. The third blind man grabs the elephant’s trunk. “No,” he says, “an elephant is like a snake.”

The fourth blind man wraps his arms around of the elephant’s legs and says, “Why, this is no snake at all. An elephant is like a big tree.”

The fifth blind man, hearing that the elephant is like a tree, is able to tug on the elephant’s ears. “This is no tree at all,” he says. “An elephant is like a fan.”

Finally, the sixth blind man finds the elephant’s tail. “You’re all wrong,” he tells them. “An elephant is like a rope.” To prove his point, he pulls on it. The elephant, annoyed by all the undue touching, snorts and walks away from the blind men, who continue to argue among themselves, each believing that his interpretation of what an elephant is actually like is the correct one.

The point is that each of us has a different perception of what we encounter based on our unique experiences. Your idea of a helpful and useful site is probably different from that of some of the visitors to your site. What is important information for you may not be quite as important for visitors. That’s why when you create your website you need to think about the different sorts of visitors it might attract, what they all might want to do there, and how to get them to do what you’d like them to do.

One of the advantages of websites over books is that websites are never completed. You can continuously change a website, updated and test different strategies for it. As you rework and refine your website, you will be able to determine where your target audience is obtaining the information you offer there, and whether they’re entering your gravity well.

In our next post, we’ll explore persuasive website writing.

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