Writing copy is like drawing a comic strip

Once, I remember reading that a cartoonist said that the important part of drawing a comic strip is not actually what’s in the panels themselves, but the space between the panels. The pictures that you draw are, in fact, just bookends and anchors to your readers’ imagination. If the reader can’t use your anchors to make the transition to the next panel through the use of their imagination, then you’ve failed as a cartoonist.

This is something we as comic strip/comic book readers tend not to notice, especially when it’s done well. It’s only glaringly obvious when you can’t follow the dialog or the action due to confusing camera angles between one panel to the next or a bad panel layout.

So it is with copy on your website, or an HN title submission. Like panels on a comic strip, copy is the anchor which you bookend your visitor’s understanding and imagination.┬áIf it’s not something that stirs their curiosity, or even better, their sense of imagination, then you’ve failed to carry them from one step to the next.

And as it is with a comic strip, you can’t be overt with the copy, nor should you lie to them. That’s when people get irked and call things link baits. When done right, people don’t even notice at all.


Make it easy for users to let others know how awesome they are

I recently got an email from Amy of Blogged.com, as many of you probably have about how she rated your blog. The editorial list seems pretty spot on, as she did her homework. However, I think it would have been more useful if the listing was filterable by the different criteria that she used to rank the blogs, such as quality of updates, frequency of posts, etc.

This blog got an 8.1, as I don’t post all that often. I try to post only when I have something to say. But in reality, while 8.1 might sound hot, it puts me way back at beyond page 10 of her list, which I’m sure no one really looks at.

But this got me thinking about how word of mouth might work. I suppose one way is to tell people how awesome they are, and encourage them to tell other people how awesome you think they are. In essence, I guess that’s what great products do, right? They let you get stuff done, quickly, easily, and with a bit of fun, so that you feel like you’re awesome. If you’re awesome, you’d like to tell other people how awesome you are.

This this limited scope, I think something similar for mobtropolis would make a lot of sense. One way for people to feel awesome using mobtropolis is if they’ve had a sense of accomplishment by completing something. Or, they get a validation of that accomplishment simply by friends commenting on it. I need to make it easier for this to happen, and I suspect the more it does, the more people will feel good about themselves.

What about your product or app? For any particular application, and especially if it’s a tool, if you can make a user feel awesome, make it easy for them to let others know how awesome they are. It can be stats on their accomplishment, or a limited feature only they can access. Either way, it has to be limited and unique to them, and yet publicly accessible to others.