If nature calls while you’re in a movie theater, and on the screen the protagonist hits rock bottom, that’s good news for your bladder: the movie will be over in approximately five minutes.
Movies, though their stories and styles are so wildly different, follow a very strict set of conventions. Consider that many of our most celebrated heroes are orphans, as is the case with Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Batman, Spider Man, Super Man, and Frodo Baggins. Screenplays are typically 120 pages long, where 1 page equals 1 minute of story, and adhere to the following timeline:
- The first 10% of the screenplay should develop and situate the protagonist. But on page 12 an opportunity should arise for our hero that sets the wheels for the story in motion.
- At 25% through the screenplay or about page 30, the protagonist will encounter a “change of plans”
- At 50% through the movie, or on page 60, the protagonist should hit a “point of no return”.
And so it goes. If you want to understand how these rules are applied to movies like Erin Brokovich, Gladiator, or Cast Away, check out Michael Hauge’s work.
Good websites are much the same. They are dizzying in their variety and execution. But the best marketing sites, though they seem wildly different, have the same structural underpinning, just like in the movies. And if those elements are not there, the experience for the user falls apart like a movie with a poorly structured screenplay.
A highly effective marketing website features the following structural elements:
- Sites should have an upper-right utility navigation menu with contact information and social media accounts, a main navigation bar below the branding that directs visitors around the sight, and an auxiliary navigation in the footer that has meta information on the site (like a sitemap, about us page, etc).
- Branding should be in the upper right hand corner: a logo with a tagline, where the tagline should be text and not part of the image.
- The site should direct people with a bold call to action above the fold on the right hand side of the page.
- Design should incorporate a primary color, a secondary color, and an accent color.
- If you click on a link of menu item, the title of the page you arrive at should reflect the name of the link.
- At all times, you should be able to identify where you are in the site so that you can find your way back or navigate around.
These are just a few of an exhaustive list of guidelines you need to think about to have a site that looks professional and can do what it’s supposed to do: attract visitors and build leads.