Less is more… or is it?

July 1, 2015

When you work in coffee shops, you overhear a lot of interesting conversations.

(Especially if you’re like me and can’t turn off that part of your brain that listens in on other people. Consider yourself warned if you ever see me nearby when you’re meeting a friend or colleague at Starbucks.)

The other day, the gal next to me (who just happens to be a freelance website producer) was chatting with a guy who, like us, uses this particular coffee shop as his office on a semi-regular basis. He was talking about the new website he’s building for his business, and she was (very generously) giving him a lot of (pretty legit) advice — which platforms to try, how to choose stock photos, where not to spend his web marketing budget.

But then they started talking about content strategy, and she told him, “When it comes to your website content, less is more.” As he continued to talk, she repeated it twice more: Less is more. Less is more.

And I thought, but is it really?

Sometimes, less is less. And other times, less is lazy.

Less is less when it doesn’t create meaning or give insight. And less is lazy when we simply don’t take the time to consider (and then meet) the needs of the people we want to work with.

I’ve been both of these less-es. Designers are notorious for being the cobblers with no shoes, and I was one of those designers who had nothing but a logo, a contact link, some pretty imagery, and a couple of sentences on my own website. I defended it by saying things like “less is more” and “I’m just too busy doing work for other people.”

The truth is, less was just less — and I was using a busy schedule as an excuse for not caring for people well.

Less is only more when the less is carefully considered and precisely crafted.

A good writer will tell you that it’s harder to make your point concisely than verbosely. That’s because less content doesn’t mean less information. When your words are fewer, your words have to work harder.

When less is done well, you give your customer exactly what they need — no more and no less. Too little content will prevent a prospect from becoming your customer in the first place. Too much content puts the burden on your customer, to sift through it to find what they need to know. But less content done well puts the burden on you — to know what your customer needs to know and connect them with it.

At the same time, for some kinds of consumers, less will never be more.

They’re the researchers, the meticulous decision makers, the get-your-facts-in-order people. The people who read all the way to the bottom of squeeze pages. The people who read Amazon reviews for every product (and all similar products) before they buy.

You need to have the more for these people — but not as a replacement for the well-crafted less.

When it comes to your website content, you need less *and* more.

Your well-crafted less will take the lead, introducing your customer to your business or product. It could be a video, a slideshow, or text copy. For some (or even most) customers, this will tell them everything they need to take action. But those researcher-types can read on for answers to their every question — presented in a way that’s engaging, simple and clear. For a one-to-one offering, like coaching, this could be an in-depth description of your process. For a one-to-many offering, like an online course, this could be an outline of the modules in your class or a tour of your digital classroom.

In the end, less isn’t more. Less is you doing more — creating more meaning, giving greater insight, caring better for your people.

On consolidation, and taking my own advice

October 1, 2012

My clients ask lots of questions about blogging — and one of the most common ones is whether their blog should be part of their regular website.

With very few exceptions, I always answer with an enthusiastic yes. Staying within the same design and hierarchy is ideal for usability and clarity. You don’t have to keep two things up to date when everything is consolidated. And yes, you absolutely can write in a personal way on your blog, even when it’s part of your business website; when you’re in business online, your customers want to connect with you personally.

But for the past several years, I haven’t been taking my own advice. I always felt like an Allie Creative blog had to be solely about design and creativity — and while those are things I am absolutely passionate about, I didn’t feel like a blog about only those things would be sustainable for me. I wanted to have a space where I could write about intentionality and gratitude and connection and time management, so I created that space elsewhere.

What I’ve found out, though, is that my business people are engaging with that space. I get emails from prospective clients and they talk about what they read on my blog. I meet colleagues for coffee and they ask questions prompted by my latest writings.

This tells me two things.

One, I’m doing my audience a disservice by creating a divide between these spaces. If the same people are going to both places, shouldn’t I make it into one shared space?

Two, my brand needs to be bigger. If I’m passionate about these things, and other people are finding value in them, shouldn’t they be part of the work I’m doing?

An Allie Creative relaunch.

Today, I’m relaunching my brand. There’s a visual component, as you can see, but there’s also a lot under the hood. A new coaching program for people in the business of creating. Simplified design packages, carefully crafted to meet the needs of the creative entrepreneurs I talk to every day. And three new things that I hope you’ll join me for this fall:

  • 30 Days of Instagratitude — posting thankfulness on Instagram, November 1-30.
  • Book Club — a virtual gathering place where we can read together and meet for weekly discussion.
  • Work Party Wednesdays — a low-key monthly get-together where entrepreneurs can connect and get inspired.

In this blog space and through my newsletter, I’ll be exploring the things that are close to my heart: design as storytelling, being intentional with your time and relationships, creating space in your business. If you go back into the archives, you can still find all of my past blog posts about delighting in the everyday — through things like cooking, faith, books, and fashion — and I’ll still occasionally post new entries on these topics going forward.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I’m already looking forward to all of the new conversations we’ll have.