Strike Up The Barry Manilow: We’re Talking About Feelings And Your Web Site

While checking my RSS feeds this morning I came across an article that I reacted to with mixed emotions.

That right there should have been a tip-off: I approach the morning feed-reading like a transfusion—gotta catch up, gotta find out what’s been going on since the last time I checked in. No time for emotional responses to HTML.

But this article—How Does Your Web Site Make Visitors Feel?—slowed me down. I was intrigued and really wanted to spend some time thinking about it.

These lines, for example, took me to a place I don’t ordinarily go at 6-ish on a Friday morning:
“You have before you a computer of some type or perhaps a cell phone. It’s equipment that contains the energy forces that made it (with all their fancy scientific names). Some scientists are exploring whether objects contain the consciousness of those who built it. This is similar to organ “memory” where an organ transplant patient has the memories and physical habits of their donor.”

The author of the article (which I recommend to you) is Kim Krause Berg, a highly regarded Usability Consultant with She explains that she’s been “exploring and researching the relationship between computers and people.” She describes herself as fascinated by Web sites and how and whether decisions made by Web site designers and bloggers, for example, affect us “emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.”

Berg says she’s been tackling the theory that “our online behavior and the actions we take after visiting a Web site are somehow tied to, or dependent on, unseen energy forces.” She then cites work by John Gerzema and Ed Lebar on the “energy-driven enterprise.” According to Berg, Gerzema and Lebar, authors of The Brand Bubble, perform energy audits as a means of getting to know a new client. They believe that a firm’s brand, organizational, operational and cultural energy can factor into a competitive advantage.

Applying it to the Web, Berg asks, “As a well branded company, are there in-house human instabilities that can be sensed by your online consumers?”

OK, no matter what time you’re reading this, it’s a lot to take in and yet on what basis would we dismiss it?

This was the third time in 18 hours that I’d thought about feelings, computers, the Web and myself (and soon we’ll get to you and your job).

#2: Yesterday, I entered my Twitter username in Twanalyst for an analysis of my Twitter profile. I was stung to read the assessment ROBOT--until I read that meant that I mostly pass on links, which is true. No argument there. But I am not a robot. I have more energy than a robot. Even though Twanalyst wasn’t calling me a ROBOT per se, I know there’s more I can do to synch my online personality with my offline.

#3: I went to a reading last night by author David Sedaris, who improvised a little as he was talking about finally getting on the Web. He described going to Google to find out how tall Rock Hudson was. Sedaris had entered only “How tall is…” when Google offered “How tall is Jesus?”

The elfin Sedaris assumed this eager to please, eager to help, Radar from M*A*S*H personality when he impersonated Google anticipating the search. “Is it Jesus? Is Jesus who you're looking for? Do you want to know how tall Jesus is?”

Sedaris, a Web user for less than a year, nailed it. Think what you want to about the company’s agenda, stands on its head trying to get us where we want to go.

All of which brings us back to investment management Web sites, maybe not a moment too soon.

If, as Berg posits, every site has an energy, what’s the energy of your site? Does it accurately represent the energy of your company and the interest your company has in effectively communicating online? If you could synch the energies in the most positive way, could that work effectively support your online objectives?

Is it time to explicitly care—and learn about—how your Web site makes visitors feel?