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Using Story Principles To Anticipate What Your User Expects

When someone begins a story, they have certain expectations in mind about how that story will unravel as the plot thickens. We can translate this into web design to configure what users anticipate and in return, go beyond those expectations. 

There are stories we love, stories we hate, and stories we wish we never came across. 


When we go on to define a story, it's similar to solving a problem. 

  • Why was it created?
  • What was the purpose?
  • How can I benefit from this? 

These are just a few examples of thoughts running through the minds of those who come across a new story/experience. At the root of every story, is a hero solving a problem. In any shape or size, this is to be the case. From a small child's nursery rhyme to the infamous Harry Potter - each so delicate in its own way - has a hero solving an issue.

The same goes for visits to a website! The User has a problem that your website can solve OR you can look at the user as the hero navigating to your site because they have a problem you can potentially solve or offer insights. Your site can solve this problem, therefore playing a vital role in the user's story. 

The Most Powerful Aspect

Content marketing drives the plot of your story, keeping your users interested and wanting more. Where most companies go wrong is when they create a mass amount of excitement then drop the ball when it comes to their website. You may try to bring in your product/service/site way to quickly, not allowing your users to fully develop within the story.

If you start off with a mixture of everything, it will be easier for you to tell the story of how your site can truly solve the issue, or be of aid. 

For example, commercials are always a great starting point when drafting ideas. In the category of humor, many started off as funny stories that happened to be for a brand that would be disclosed in the end. In this case, the key is to tell the funny story with the brand from the begging. Throughout the commercial, we know what it is for, but are still being entertained. Instead of a random hit of exposure in the end. 

Alternative Approach

Solve the user's issue by acknowledging it at first and forever becoming a part of the solution. We can see this in many case studies, especially with businesses and software. Companies will testify to claim things such as "Blue Archer made it easier for user's to see our services and experience a quality journey on our site so we can focus more on our offerings". With this example, we have become not only a staple in this companies daily routine but also offering beneficial aspects to those who have the same issues. 

The pitch for deeper engagement will become a natural process if they realize they can utilize your service to effectively solve their problem. The important note here is to not just come out and say, "Hey look at us we are awesome", but to have actual real-world testimonials on how you efficiently assisted a client. 


Many experiences, like many stories, aren't always about one person. If the story doesn't give enough attention to each character then they naturally aren't as important. However, if they miraculously have an influential appearance in the end, we kind of feel cheated. Cheated of the plotline and all we have invested in the process, just to be systematically blindsided by an easy answer.

 If any character is left out of a story, it should change the story. It’s the same way with websites.

The user is the story’s hero, but she’s rarely the only character. If we ignore the other characters, they won’t feel needed or be interested in our websites.

Decisions typically involve multiple people because a single user doesn't have te authority to decide. Some examples to break this pattern:

  • Friends & family discounts
  • Benefits for multiple parties
  • Focus on connection between users

In this case, social media strives for the users being the hero and friends. The user can optimize their platform to be a hero or a strong community member. Resulting in them writing their own story. 

If you try to hook users with free cake, but you sell saxophones, you will get lots of cake lovers and very few tuba lovers. Worse yet is to have the free cake contingent on buying a saxophone. The thing they want comes with a commitment or price tag they don’t. This happens a lot with a free e-book when you have to create an account and fill out a lengthy form. For me, that price has often been too high.

Make sure the way you’re hooking the audience is consistent with what you want them to read, do, or buy. If you sell saxophones offer a free lesson or polishing cloth. This will ensure they want what you provide and they’ll think of you the next time they need to buy a saxophone.

Crazy example, but make it relevant!

Looking to make your webdesign more efficient for your users? Contact Blue Archer today.

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