The unreasonable effectiveness of simple HTML

We’ve seen other articles pointing the finger at unnecessarily bloated websites. Terence Eden’s On the unreasonable effectiveness of simple HTML deserves mention, I think, for two reasons. First, the delivery is incredibly effective. Second, it is effective because of the storytelling.

By enveloping the message into an original short, touching story, he achieves two goals. First, he captures the reader’s attention; second, he makes the experience memorable. Please, go and read it; I’ll wait here.

In the second paragraph, we’re already knee-deep into the story:

In the middle, a young woman sits on a hard plastic chair. She is surrounded by canvas-bags containing her worldly possessions. She doesn’t look like she is in a great emotional place right now. Clutched in her hands is a games console – a PlayStation Portable. She stares at it intensely; blocking out the world with Candy Crush. Or, at least, that’s what I thought.

Then, in the second to last paragraph, when the story is long over, notice the expedient of echoing elements from the story (the woman’s chair; the small obsolete device; both uncomfortable) to reinforce the message:

Go sit in an uncomfortable chair, in an uncomfortable location, and stare at an uncomfortably small screen with an uncomfortably outdated web browser. How easy is it to use the websites you’ve created?

For added momentum, the last paragraph reconciliates the story and the message—worth a read. Style notes aside, of course, unless your website serves static content, some Javascript is probably going to be unavoidable. The point still stands, though: do not overdo it. Or, as Confucius would say, do not use a cannon to kill a mosquito.

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