What the Movies Can Teach Us About Design

You don't need special effects to tell a great story. In fact, it's probably easier to tell a story without it. CG and unique front-end interactions can provide a captivating visual spectacle that draws attention to your work, but ultimately these types of technical feats distract users from the information cues you want them to pick up on. What's the back story? How do they know each other? These are important components that often become lost during the production of big-budget blockbusters.

Think of some of your favorite movies. Do you remember them for their visual effects or for the story and characters that made you feel something? Whether on the big screen or through a window to the web, being remembered doesn't require a big budget but stories and character that makes your audience feel emotion.

Heroes don't exist without a villain

Or great peril. Or the odds stacked against them. But you get the point. So what great evil are you saving your users from? A tedious process? Bad prices? Make it clear what you are offering them so that your audience knows why they should root for you. Rudy! Rudy!

You can't fake passion

Chemistry between actors, vision from the director and that intangible sense of commitment are things that bleed through the screen when a movie is made with passion and an excruciating level of detail. On the web, users can easily identify and dismiss ordinary copy and features. If you don't feel a burning desire to execute something to perfection then don't bother wasting you or your audience's time.

The best movies not only tell a story, but use the medium as a platform for inspiration or social commentary. In web design, this can be obvious (through copy) or subtle (through visual design). Those cues wrapped up in a message can inspire others to embark on their own projects. And that's one way to know if you've left a lasting impression.

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