The Importance of Context

Categories: General Thoughts

Have you ever arrived at a movie 20 minutes late? The characters have been introduced, the plot is blossoming, and you are trying to piece together what is going on.

When we think about content for our websites, we should consider that each visitor may be arriving at our website without the initial context of what is going on. One of the hardest things to do is to put ourselves in our visitor’s shoes. We work at the institution and have been acculturated to the industry lingo. We may begin presenting content as though our visitors know the story from the beginning. But this is not the case.

I see this happen most often in the presentation of images and videos. My clients will post a photo or video as if the visitor should just know exactly what it is about. One sentence of context is usually enough to introduce the photo or video and get the visitor up to speed.

As a whole, people are visiting fewer website pages for less time. When considering content, think less, but don’t cut out the context. Assume your visitor is intelligent, but that they may have arrived 20 minutes into the movie.

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