Thursday, June 12, 2008
We've all seen them. Homemade signs announcing this or that garage sale that sprout on telephone poles like strange spring flowers in the suburbs of any city in the USA. Everytime I see them I get mad all over again and consider starting up a consulting business for folks having garage sales—but when i run the numbers it's clear that it's not something you could retire on. What's interesting though is that it plainly shows how people generally don't think about context.
I can't count how many times I've seen a sign lettered with yellow or orange marker on brown cardboard. Proof that the signs author has not considered the fact that most people viewing their masterpiece will surely be further than three inches away. Chances are, they'll be in their cars driving by at at least 15 to 40 MPH, and if they're stopped, it's only momentarily for a stop sign. They've only got a few seconds at best to quickly scan your sign for content relevant to them and their lives before they move on down the road to stumble across a better, clearer, more relevant sign for a competitors garage sale.
Not to put to fine a point on it, but think about the home page of a website through this lens. Is your website more like the example in the image? The content is there, but in context of how real people surf the web, are you clearly stating what is it your site contains? What visitors can do? Why they should stay any longer than a few seconds before moving along down the road?
And people please...when making a sign for your next garage sale—or your next missing pet—lay off the colored markers and go with the black. Make it bold, make it as concise as can be. You've only got a few seconds to convince someone with cash in their pockets to come to your yard sale, and not the one around the corner.