Parallels between good books and great websites

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BJM Digital

The art of getting on the same page with website users

Anyone who has ever said, “I really want to write a book one day”, then actually sat down to write that book, has learned, fairly quickly, that it’s easier said than done. That said, a quick glance at Amazon stats tells us that over 1000 books are published on their platform every… 8… hours!

Pop quiz: can you name just 10 books that have been published in the last week – or month? 

Clearly, it takes a lot more than ambition and an idea to get from ‘once upon a time’ to ‘the end’ while inspiring, inspiring change or simply being memorable… and recommended.

The same goes for a website, but the numbers are quite astounding.

Almost every minute, 380+ new websites go online. So that’s  547200 new websites every 24 hours*.

Crafting the audience experience is the key to success

Take any best-selling book, whether fiction or non-fiction – and you’ll notice that it takes the reader on a journey. It harnesses their attention from the outset and gives them a reason to turn over to the next page, to move to the next chapter. To achieve this, the successful author will already know how to ignite the readers’ neural pathways and whet their appetite for more. And it’s not just a case of emptying out the information on the table like a 5,000-piece jigsaw. Sorting of information; the creation of progression and the ability to know when to reveal certain details and when to exercise restraint are little-noticed tasks that don’t get much airplay.

Successful web design gives just as much thought to the audience experience. It clearly and confidently establishes a tone and grabs the user’s attention with an expectation of what’s to come. It gives the user a reason to read and engage and to click through to the next part of their journey. It understands what information should go where so as not to overwhelm, confuse or bore a user. It requires a deep understanding of what it’s like to be human.

Which brings us to…

Experience emotions, experience success

A good book takes control of how the reader feels and expertly moves them through a series of emotions. A novel written in the horror genre makes use of three emotional states anticipation and dread, with moments of relief or relaxation sprinkled throughout.

  1. Anticipation, where you don’t know what’s about to happen but really want to know
  2. Dread, where you know something’s about to happen but don’t know when
  3. Relief, where you’re allowed a moment to recover from one climax before being taken towards another

Now, not many web designers will want to harness your sense of dread, but any good designer will want to understand and create emotional states in the user that relate directly to the brand or the product as a solution. An effective website design will understand the user on a deeper level and create a situation where the way to reach the objective is to experience more, and provide pathways to create an engaging experience.  On the way, you should feel a sense of anticipation – knowing that a need is about to be met.

We love working with clients who also value the work that goes into creating such successful user experiences beneath the “cover”. Working to understand how users feel, being of service to their needs, knowing how they want to feel and more importantly – how to respectfully get them from point a) to point b).

Technical excellence is essential to creativity

The ability to put yourself in the audience’s shoes to better inform creativity is critical – always has been. It is a highly technical process, yet it’s also intuitive requiring both the head and the heart. You need to be able to implement highly structural and (the good kind of) cunning processes, without any of those processes being apparent to the audience. A good writer is able to do this. As is a good web designer. As is a good filmmaker, a good songwriter, a good photographer, a good painter. We know from experience what it takes, what works and exactly how to deliver the best possible product to our clients.

Speaking of clients, critically, they contribute to our technical excellence. If we didn’t collaborate closely with our clients, then we wouldn’t have a complete picture of what a specific customer base needs to experience. Just as a fiction writer is working within the framework of a genre, we are working within a paradigm established with our clients.

A final thought…

Any book or website worth anything is a unique, creation that connects with humans, helping them make decisions that will empower them to feel inspired, choose, make a considered decision after the experience. And ideally, improve the quality of their lives.

We believe that a brilliant website should be held in as high esteem as any brilliant work of art, as it requires just as much thought, skill, innovation and humanity.

* According to

Ashley Pickering

Design Lead



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