How to save a cats life by telling a story

Paul Boag

This is probably one of the most cryptic blog post titles you have read in a while, but believe it or not it does relate to web design.

A couple of days ago I received an email from the Blue Cross, a charity whose site we have worked on for a number of years.

The email told the story of Hatty, an abandoned cat who was saved because of the work of Blue Cross. Although a bit sickly sweet for my personal tastes, I know the email was perfect for its intended audience.

Email about Hatty the cat

What the email did do, is perfectly demonstrate the power of storytelling as a way of engaging users/readers. This is something I have recently written about in a post for Web Design Tuts+.

I won’t repeat the whole post here. However, I would like to share a couple of quotes which I mention in the article. The first is from Susan M. Weinschenk who writes in her book Neuro Web Design:

Stories are an excellent way for us to process and store information. A story contains a large amount of information in digestible chunks. Stories allow us to break down events into smaller units so that we can better understand the information being communicated. Psychologists call this chunking of parts of a story event structure perception.

But stories are not just a great way of processing and storing information. They are also a brilliant way of getting the listener to empathise. I use a quote from Doctor Joshua Gowin to explain this concept:

When you tell a story to a friend, you can transfer experiences directly to their brain. They feel what you feel. They empathize. What’s more, when communicating most effectively, you can get a group of people’s brains to synchronize their activity. As you relate someone’s desires through a story, they become the desires of the audience. When trouble develops, they gasp in unison, and when desires are fulfilled they smile together.

I am a huge fan of using stories to communicate with users. I therefore want to strongly encourage you to check out this article. I am confident it will change your approach to how you communicate online.

Read about the power of storytelling

So what do you think? Do you use stories on your sites? What problems do you foresee? Let me know along with any questions in the comments below.