“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
It’s one of the first aphorisms our young minds are taught as we begin to understand the vast universe of wondrous mysteries that opens up to us within the happy pages of a new book. The principle is a sound one: the author might be rubbish, but his brother-in-law’s cousin might have a friend who is a wizard artist, so the cover looks amazing. Or the author might be a literary genius who writes work that will change your life – but you’d never guess that from the dour, uninspired dust jacket. The clear message behind the idiom is “don’t be duped”.
Here’s the thing: we’re all really busy.
As this article on BBC News explains,
From reading emails to managing status updates on mobile devices 24/7 with an all-you-can-eat data plan – we are consuming information like never before.
According to a study conducted by the University of California, San Diego, the average American consumes over 12 hours of data per day. The statistics for South Africa and other developed, computer-centric communities around the world are very similar, and even higher in some cases.
This means that the biggest block of our waking hours is spent on acquiring, using and creating information. Technology changes so quickly that the only way to keep your knowledge and skillset current is to keep learning. Every single day, there’s something new for us to discover, understand, master, share and discard as passé. It can be a full time job.
Is it too much? Or just enough?
And while the Huffington Post explains that information overload isn’t actually a thing, and that it should be called “information just-right-load”, the load of information is still huge. There is certainly very little wiggle room left for frivolous diversions.
Access to information = freedom of thought
It’s comforting to note that, rather than feeling overwhelmed by the constant stream of media blaring for our attention, we collectively tend to feel empowered by the ready access we have to information. And so we should. Never before in the history of mankind has there been such unrestricted flow of thoughts, ideas and knowledge. Universities almost look set to become obsolete as people are able to teach themselves much faster than institutions of higher learning can create courseware. The only tertiary education facilities with any hope of survival are those forward-thinking bodies that develop open source material, as MIT and Harvard have recently and famously done.
Moreover, we are no longer limited in our fields of study. You can literally learn anything. Today you might be interested in the history of music. Tomorrow you might be fascinated by the inner workings of bovine digestion. Perhaps you need a visual guide to servicing your old jalopy, or you simply want some insight into Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Maybe you just want the book itself. It really hardly matters what grabs your attention. If you can think it, you can find it on the web. You can learn about it and even become proficient in it. If, that is, you choose your sources wisely.
In this new world of ours, with its infinite access to information and an endless array of expert advice, how do you know where to start? How do you know which article, on which website, shared on which social media page, would be the best suited to your requirements? You really don’t have a lot of time available to you to make this decision. And none of us can easily afford the time it takes to make a wrong choice. Between wasting time reading rubbish, and causing potential chaos implementing the rubbish we’ve read, it really is critical that we skip that step by getting straight to the good stuff as quickly as we can.
But how do we know just what that “good stuff” is? This is the bit where we talk about the cover of the book. In this context, we mean the design of your website. While it is becoming easier and easier to create beautiful, easy to navigate website, it is also becoming more and more important to do so. How your website looks is your audience’s first clue as to the quality of the content. You have just three seconds to grab their attention, and the only way to do that is through great design.
What about you? Does your website design grab your audience’s attention for long enough to engage them in reading your content and converting from browsers to buyers? Website design doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. But it does have to be good to be effective. Contact aXent today to find out how to make the most of your online marketing budget, and make the “cover” of your business book work for you.