Like the law of gravity, the law of the web describes behavior.
The law of gravity basically says, “what goes up, must come down.” Jump from a building and you will fall.
That’s the law of gravity.
The law of the web says people blaze through the web like it were an autobahn. And they blaze on the autobahn to do one thing…
Look at billboards.
People don’t have time to think when they’re driving at 170 miles per hour. Landmarks zip by. Trees melt away. Billboards are a blur. And the moment they can’t understand your billboard is the moment you lost them.
In other words, the law of the web says: DON’T MAKE PEOPLE THINK.*
Their choices must be clear and unarguably focused. They should know what you want them to do within four seconds. So what you have to do is make your billboard clear AND irresistible.
How do you do this? Write cunning, drool-worthy headlines. Add strange, seductive pictures. Craft attractive sub-headlines. And make your links meaningful.
That’s really the best recipe.
Think about It This Way
Which blog posts do you read when you are scanning through your blog reader? It’s usually those posts with a gripping image and sexy headline.
Which emails do you read? It’s usually those with enticing subject lines.
Yes, there is a time where your reader will slow down and think. But that doesn’t happen until after he’s decided you are worth it.
Listen: Your reader has a million other things she needs to do. And you’re not one of them. Unless you grab her by the chin and say, “You’re going to regret it if you don’t read this.”
That’s the law of the web and you need to obey it if you want to succeed at this thing called web writing.
*This was true long before Steve Krug said it. He just gets the credit for describing it like Newton gets the credit for describing gravity.
Image credit: Whiskers of Justice