by Duncan Wilcox — January 5, 2019
As we work on evolving and straightening out the communication on our own marketing website, we’re caught in a tension between two opposing forces.
The fundamental problem here is dopamine. Sounds weird, but let me back up a little.
Dopamine in the brain acts as a neurotransmitter that, because of its role in reward-motivated behavior, propels an individual’s actions towards an outcome, or in other words when you perceive something as desirable you get a strong dopamine signal, and you are motivated to achieve that outcome.
You might have felt a bit of it when reading the title of this post, the anticipation of something that would please you (if you trusted my words).
Instant gratification, the immediate attainability of satisfaction and happiness, is front and center in modern products, digital or real world. Products are dumbed down until all it takes is a single uninformed button push—or as close to that ideal as possible—in an attempt to exploit the dopamine rush.
Scrolling the timeline of a social network, playing a mindless touch screen game, using some artificial-intelligence based tool to get incredible results with no effort (well in demos anyway). All attempts to make you feel like the result is closer, so the anticipation is more justified and more real.
Imagine single button a website builder, how would it work?
Ironically enough some have tried, either by providing mostly pre-built templates and pages, or by using artificial intelligence methods to create a somewhat customized template. In this context, artificial intelligence is an algorithm trained by examples, which essentially produces a “statistical average” of its source examples. In other words it produces a template that looks mostly like all the others.
Both are flawed, not because the template isn’t perfectly usable, but because it conflicts with another fundamental trait of human psychology: identity and individuality.
In the context of web design, this means distinction and uniqueness.
Now combine all these together, you have a tool that is built to minimize effort, to widen the interest and boost the sense of accomplishment, how can it be distinct and unique?
While having a model to follow, a process to copy, is a great way to postpone the hard decisions and maybe learn, you can’t always do that.
With your identity and your brand (or that of a client), what you’re trying to create is new-ness. By definition you are trying to stand out, to create something different, to beat a new path, to highlighting unique traits.
And yet some competitors, and some web agencies, live by this. Their marketing wouldn’t be as effective if they said “create websites that look just like everybody else’s”. No wonder their instant gratification pitch is channeled en masse next to mattress and coffee ads, as if your website was as undifferentiated and commodity as a fast food burger.
Creating something unique takes knowing the subject, and working hard on text content, information architecture, page composition and layout, imagery and interactions. In essence it is as unique as you make it, more work and more time can be used to increase distinctiveness, assuming you don’t copy cat bad ideas just because they’re popular.
And that takes us full circle, the dopamine hit, and the attempt at inducing it, is pulling exactly in the opposite direction of what’s needed to build a unique design.
And here’s the kicker. Website builders that are in fact focused on favoring quantity over quality generally don’t even have the provisions to go in and customize, because it’s not their focus.
Sparkle is and remains the visual website builder that gives you the most control over deep customization, short of falling back to code.
Sparkle is striving to become the best visual tool to create websites.
We will soon be adding more articles with example websites and more thoughts on visual web development.
If you have any questions or feedback please get in touch.