Brain Rules For Bloggers: Exploit The Senses, (Especially Sight)
This is Part Five of the Brain Rules for Bloggers series, based on
John Medina’s book & dvd, Brain Rules. And yes, I know I promised
this segment would include sex, but it doesn’t. Next time, it’ll be about sex, I promise… but for now, it’s all about stimulating senses.
Brain Rule #9: Stimulate More Of The Senses (and stimulate your blog readers)
We experience the world (and blogs) through our senses – and the more our senses are involved in an experience, the more likely we are to understand and remember it.
More importantly, our senses work as a team, each providing context and meaning to the others, so that what we see influences how we interpret what we hear, and so on. We process our senses in an integrated way, and we remember what our senses have told us n an integrated way – the more our senses are involved in an experience, the more accurate our recall will likely be.
Bloggers are (thankfully) limited in the senses we can integrate in our blogs. We can’t reach out and touch our readers, and we can’t barrage them with exotic scents – can you imagine the potential for abuse? (oh, the humanity!)
But we do have access to connect to our visitor’s eyes and ears; using visual and auditory cues can help or hinder readers as they process our blogs. How? Research by cognitive psycholigst Richard Mayer provides some clues:
- Students learn better from words and pictures than words alone
- Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously, rather than successively.
- Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented near each other rather than far from each on the page or screen.
- Students learn better when extraneous material is excluded rather than included.
- Students learn better from animation and narration than from animation and onscreen text.
- Borrowed From Brain Rules, by John Medina
What does this mean to bloggers? Graphics are more than eye candy; relevant images, presented in the context of your posts, can help readers better comprehend and remember the information you present. (Relevant ideally means more than a questioning little blue man, but hey, I was in a rush tonight.)
Multimedia elements, audio podcasts, video blogs, printable worksheets and interactive flash applications are gaining in popularity with bloggers for a reason – they help people to process and remember information. That makes them excellent blog tools for educating readers, or just helping them to remember who you are.
But make sure the elements you add are relevant to your content.
If your blog is about the local club scene, it makes sense to have a widget that plays dance tunes, but if your topic is backyard gardening, don’t blast your readers with the theme to Star Wars or with a counter that declares how many times you’ve seen StarWars, Episode IV. Every extra element – audio, visual, or text – that doesn’t reinforce your message distracts from it. Remember the lessons about attention?
So weigh the impact of any unrelated extras in your posts; are they really necessary? Do you earn enough from Adsense to offset the negative impact of irrelevant materials? Are the inline text ads, popups from Snap-pages and Amazon relevant to your material, or are they hurting your reader’s ability to grasp the overall all message with no real benefit? This doesn’t mean ads shouldn’t be used, but the trick is in finding a balance.
Your reader’s brains don’t just process your words; they process the experience of your blog, through the information provided by their senses. Stimulate more of their senses in ways that make your blog memorable, and reinforce your core message, rather than distract from it.
Brain Rule #1o: Vision Trumps All Other Senses
(so help your blog readers *see* your points)
Although all of our senses are integrated, visual input is usually more powerful than any other – so pay special attention to the *look* of your blog, and what that look communicates.
Because vision can over ride the other senses, the visual impression a reader receives influences the way they perceive your written message.
If your blog looks scattered and confusing, visitors are likely to interpret your writing as confused and scattered, no matter how clearly it’s actually written. On the other hand, if your blog looks professional, readers will more likely view your writing as professional and authoritative, even if you may sometimes be faking it a bit. Warm or distant, focused or happy, the overall visual impact of a webpage can strongly influence how a reader processes the content.
So match your blog design to both your topic and style. A casual, brightly colored theme is great for a parenting blog, but not so great for reporting business trends. At the same time, an overly professional or sterile theme can make your writing seem cold and distant. Consider your design as part of your message – your reader’s brains will interpret it that way.
Individual post illustrations can add to an article’s mood and tone, provide insight and information, or distract, confuse and mislead, so choose them carefully. And keep in mind how your posts appear in feedreaders, too -many people read blogs exclusively via RSS – which means the use of headings and illustrations have to do double duty when it comes to setting tone and communicating messages.
Consider creating diagrams and labeled graphics to engage your readers visual senses. Moving elements are especially powerful, so think about building a flash animation to help illustrate your blog’s core message, or post an occasional video blog.
Even if you don’t have the time, skills or inclination to create videos, build animations or create complex illustrations, think carefully abou t the visual impact of your blog, and just what it is that you’re broadcasting, visually…
If you’re looking for rules 1-9, you can find them listed below( Note that some posts cover more than one rule). And be sure and visit the Brain Rules website for multimedia content that’s WAY more stimulating to the senses than I can manage with my limited budget ; )
- Brain Rules, by John Medina: A Proper Book Review (and then some)
- Brain Rules for Bloggers: Excercise, Evolution and Getting Wired
- Brain Rules for Bloggers: Attention, Attention!
- Brain Rules For Bloggers: The Long And Short Of Becoming Unforgettable
- Brain Rules for Bloggers: Sleep and Stress, The Essential S’s
- Brain Rules For Bloggers: Exploit The Senses, (Especially Sight)
- Brain Rules For Bloggers: Of Sex and Exploration