Respect your user, feel the love

Just before Christmas, comedian Louis CK released his latest comedy special, Live at the Beacon Theater, on a website of his own creation. For $5, you can buy a couple of downloads and some video streams of the show. You can watch it on your computer or iPad, or burn it to a blank DVD.

In short, you hand over your fiver, get the video, and do as you please.

By all accounts the experiment has been a success. Louis grossed over $1 million dollars in little more than ten days. These were dollars that went directly into his pocket. No network or cable channel in the way. No middleman. And better yet, he retains the rights to the content in perpetuity.

I bought it. First, because the dude is funny. I mean seriously, eye-wateringly, doubled-over funny. And second, because I believe strongly in the distribution model he chose and I wanted to support it.

But what really grabbed me was the way he spoke to me on his website. There was…


Let’s take look at the copy.

If you decide to pull the trigger on the purchase you get this:

I’m really glad you pressed BUY THE THING! So here’s what’s going to happen now. You’re going to enter your email. Then you’re going to go to PayPal or Amazon to pay. After that, you’re going to be sent right back here where you can immediately watch the movie or download it.

Pretty straightforward, right? As you fill out the checkout details, you get prompted to sign up for CK’s email list:

I’m going to be offering other things through this site.

Would you like to hear about them?

  •  Yes, I’d like to receive further emails about Louis C.K. things.
  •  No, leave me alone forever, you fat idiot.

And by default, “No” is checked for you. This is a clear example of how you…

Respect your user 

Granted, this is copy from a guy best known for a riff on our selfish attitudes towards technology and the tone might not fly on every real estate website, but the lesson is still worth absorbing.

Too often when we look at real estate websites, we see a bewildering mess of terminology. Naming conventions be damned, and important actions on often are buried under a mountain of buzzwords, neologisms and misappropriated terms.

All of this causes confusion with the user.

When we first sit down with a client, we reinforce with them the need to be clear and direct. We peel back the layers of wallpapered marketing-speak and lay down a new coat of copy that communicates to the user in a way that makes sense to them.

It’s important to note here that this doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your brand’s voice. In fact, the more plainly you speak, the more strongly your brand begins to shine.

Funnily enough, this is a simple lesson taught by a comic. Be clear and call things what they are. Respect your users and they’ll pay you back in spades.

So if you’re looking at your website this year, bear in mind that what sounds good you, or what you feel you want to say, but not be what your user wants to hear.

And seriously, if you haven’t bought Louis’ video yet, go drop the five bucks. It’s well worth it.