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Less is More?

January 12th, 2009 by Erick Beck

While reading a blog post (really, it’s good, read it, that’s why it’s a link) I was reminded that the imagination is a more powerful tool than detailed descriptions. Why did this campaign work? Perhaps because the implied immediacy left the consequences of waiting to the imagination. Would it have been as effective if it spelled out what would happen on each day after classes started?

I remember a similar incident in the late 1990s. I was a poor grad student addicted to an online game, and like all the other addicts created a web site for it. If you remember the period, LinkExchange banner ads were the way of marketing your site back then, and we all competed to make the best banner to get the most traffic. Which one worked? Not the ones with flashy graphics; not the ones telling what the game was all about; not the ones made by semi-professional Photoshop artists. It was so simple it was brilliant. Black backfield, white letters: FREE | ONLINE | GAME. It was stylistically unrefined, it told nothing about what the game was all about, but it got more click-throughs than any of the others. It created curiosity and let the viewer’s imagination tantalize him into clicking the link.

The principle seems universal. Hollywood has long known that the scariest movies are not the ones that show in gory detail the most horrific monster, but the ones which keep it hidden and let us imagine what is chasing us.

Maybe we don’t need tons of facts and figures to throw at our audience to make them interested. Maybe instead we should tantalize them with just enough of a taste to peak their curiosity and make them want to see what we’re all about.

Monday, January 12th, 2009 Uncategorized
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