July 8, 2006

Frosted Mini-Wheats Design that Hooks Readers

published this at 12:31 pm

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I see the picture on a telephone book. That’s not me there. That’s not anyone I know. That’s stock photography. I can spot it from a mile away. It looks like a wallet photo. It looks like the picture that comes inside a picture frame that I bought at the office supply store — flat and cheery with no humanity behind it.

The same is true of some blogs and websites. They look expensive, but they have no heart. They don’t call to me in any way. Stuff is there, but the music for my eyes is missing. My finger clicks before I think.

Take a moment to stare at a blank wall. Then look at your blog as a stranger might. Is there something that pulls you in, a promise, a wink, a hint of relaxation or surprise? If you don’t see an emotional hook there, perhaps your blog need a makeover to get some “Frosted Mini-Wheats” design.

Frosted Mini-Wheats Design

I call it a Frosted Mini-Wheats Design because the famous Kelloggs cereal understands how to explain balance in the fewest words — appeal to the sophisticated adult in me while serving up something specially made to please the playful kid. How better to define elegant simplicity? Gotta do both to have a Frosted Mini-Wheats design. Gotta do both in design and in the words to keep me coming back to your blog.

These are some principles of a Frosted Mini-Wheats Design.

    1. Choose a limited palette of colors that blend or contrast naturally. That doesn’t mean wild colors or hot neons are out. It only means that you should use those that belong together. If you need help try this color palette generator. Upload a photo and it will give you a set of colors from the photo that work together. As you mouse over each color square the generator will reveal the HEX code for the color you are on. Click the shot below to get to the color generator.

    Color Pallette Generator

    The adult in me will appreciate the sophistication of the colors that are not fighting with each other while I’m reading. The kid will like that you picked cool colors that are fun to look at.

    2. Arrange blocks of text so that what goes together looks like a single piece of a puzzle. The look is easier on my grownup eyes if only 3-5 things seem to be on a page. (Keep the header to a post closer to the post it goes with not in the middle between the one above and below it. That’s a trick many folks miss.) The kid in me likes a look that is simple to digest so that I can get where I want to be right away.

    3. Put things where folks expect to find them. The temptation might be to be clever, but counterintuitive is always a mistake. Making me jump a GIANT AD to find a tiny comment link irritates the adult in me and totally doesn’t get me to click. I know what you’re doing. The kid in me does does too. We both remember those teachers we had who relied on trick questions on tests we took in school. Neither one of us liked the teachers or the tests. Don’t make us not like you.

    4. Don’t switch streams in the middle of the horse. :) Be consistent. Are all links of every kind coded the same way? If one link is underlined, then they all should be and nothing that is underlined should be something that is not a link. Any kid will set you straight on why consistency is important. Any adult will tell you why any other way of doing it is going to confuse someone.

    5. Check the obvious stuff three times. The kid in me is looking for something to giggle about — a word that might mean something else — something that you didn’t intend. The adult in me will notice that you left something out that I feel I need to have.

    If you achieve Frosted Mini-Wheats level and winover both the adult and the kid in me, you have my full attention because you’ve shown me that you know I’m not one-dimensional and that neither are you. Because of your design, I’m ready to read and to participate. If what I read holds true to that Frosted Mini-Wheats ideal, I’m going to become a regular at your blog.

    You’ve hooked both the kid and the adult me. How could I not come back?

    All you did was to consider the adult and kid in me as the center of your design. Hmmmmm. Instead of teaching your readers about your brand, why learn your brand from your readers?

    Brand you and me.

    –ME “Liz” Strauss

    Related Articles
    5 Sure-Fire Ways to Break the Promise of Your Brand
    6 Steps to a Branded Business Blog in Record Time

    http://www.successful-blog.com/1/gawker-design-curb-appeal-as-customer-centered-promotion/

    Filed under Customer Think, Marketing /Sales / Social Media, Personal Branding, Successful Blog | 15 Comments »


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    15 Comments to “Frosted Mini-Wheats Design that Hooks Readers”

    1. July 8th, 2006 at 6:15 pm
      Scot Herrick said

      Liz,

      Great find on the color palette site. I uploaded a CD picture because I liked the color combinations. Here is the picture and the suggestions:

      http://jrm.cc/color-palette-generator/index.php?image=images%2Fcds.jpg&steps=3

      I then translated that over to the look on my blogs. You can see one of them here:

      http://www.scotherrick.com/writeblog/

      A great weekend project; one that I’ve wanted to do but never found the color combination help.

      Thanks…Scot

    2. July 8th, 2006 at 6:23 pm
      ME Strauss said

      Whoa, Scot,
      How elegant. I like the way it came together. You’ve got the designer in you. Now you are the total blogger/businessman. :)

    3. July 8th, 2006 at 8:08 pm
      Tammy said

      Liz ~ I’m wondering when you sleep! ;-) I love this – now that I know this I will work on the colors (I fixed my comment box!) and Frosted Mini Wheats are my absolute favorite :-)

      Tam

    4. July 8th, 2006 at 8:10 pm
      ME Strauss said

      Yea! I love giving people toys to play with. That’s as much fun as giving them confidence!

      Frosted Mini-Wheats are my favorite in every way, except of course for Rice Krispies. They go Snap, Crackle, Pop! I’ll have to write a post about them next. :P

    5. July 8th, 2006 at 9:45 pm
      CodeProfessor » Do We Need Multi-Column Layout Web Page Designs? said

      [...] I’ll try to cover Canvas in more depth some time in the future, once I’ve had a chance to play with it and maybe create a few plugins. In the meantime, check out Liz’s Frosted Mini-Wheats Design post at Successful Blog. [...]

    6. July 8th, 2006 at 9:46 pm
      ME Strauss said

      Thanks Raj!

    7. July 9th, 2006 at 9:10 am
      » links for 2006-07-09 Ian’s Messy Desk said

      [...] Frosted Mini-Wheats Design that Hooks Readers (tags: Blogs Blogging Design Layout Successful+Blog) [...]

    8. July 10th, 2006 at 1:38 pm
      Hans said

      hello Liz it’s been some time I’ve been reading your crispy articles and today I decided not to be the lurker and came to comment in here.

      As for design and colouring I like the simplistic one that put content beforehand, I think there are making blogs that get you distracted by their bold colours they use that’s why I’ve opted for a clear white and lower dark blend(for the comments section) on my blog. I’ve just switched between different themes for that reason : getting the perfect atmosphere between my content and its surrounding colour.

      Talking about content Liz, could you please help me to understand the writer within me? You know I like to write and want to improve much in order to convey the message behind my posts and my writings but you know I’ve just been poked by others(readers,teachers,friends) that my writing is not fluid and difficult to grasp sort like I lack something probably the objective I was setting myself : conveying the message…..I once remembered having written a mail to ask for some bits of information to a dude and the first reply back from his mail was that I should write in better clear English because most of the mail was incomprehensible……..could you please help me Liz???? I’m just getting hasty in writing that makes that type of writer, do I have much to say but don’t know how to put it in clear crystal English,…..most of the times the solution I just hear from others is to read(good reads) a lot(that’s why probably I’m getting to the side of your blog reading through RSS)………thanks very much in advance and very nice piece of work you throw everytime in here Liz, it’s like my daily newspaper……

    9. July 10th, 2006 at 1:41 pm
      Hans said

      hello Liz it’s been some time I’ve been reading your crispy articles and today I decided not to be the lurker and came to comment in here.

      As for design and colouring I like the simplistic one that put content beforehand, I think there are making blogs that get you distracted by their bold colours they use that’s why I’ve opted for a clear white and lower dark blend(for the comments section) on my blog. I’ve just switched between different themes for that reason : getting the perfect atmosphere between my content and its surrounding colour.

      Talking about content Liz, could you please help me to understand the writer within me? You know I like to write and want to improve much in order to convey the message behind my posts and my writings but you know I’ve just been poked by others(readers,teachers,friends) that my writing is not fluid and difficult to grasp sort like I lack something probably the objective I was setting myself : conveying the message…..I once remembered having written a mail to ask for some bits of information to a dude and the first reply back from his mail was that I should write in better clear English because most of the mail was incomprehensible……..could you please help me Liz???? I’m just getting hasty in writing that makes that type of writer, do I have much to say but don’t know how to put it in clear crystal English,…..most of the times the solution I just hear from others is to read(good reads) a lot(that’s why probably I’m getting to the side of your blog reading it through RSS)………thanks very much in advance and very nice piece of work you throw everytime in here Liz, it’s like my daily newspaper……

    10. July 10th, 2006 at 1:57 pm
      ME Strauss said

      Hi Hans!
      Welcome, it’s nice to meet you!
      I too like your minimalistic theme. It’s elegant and draws the eye to the content, offering a splendid atmosphere, just as you say it does.

      Well, first Hans. I help folks with their writing for a living, but here’s some advice you can have for the lovely words you’ve given me.

      Breathe. Count the words in your sentences. I think that second paragraph might be only one sentence by itself. That can be confusing because readers like to stop and think about what you have to say.

      Your writing is fine. As Ernest Hemingway said, “Every first draft is sh*t.” Hans, All you need to do is finish by editing.

      I’ll edit a bit here:
      You know I like to write. I want to improve in order to convey the message behind my writing, but I’ve been poked by others(readers,teachers,friends) that my writing is not fluid and difficult to grasp. They say I lack something — probably the objective I was setting myself: conveying the message.

      I remember having written a mail to ask for information and the first reply back was that I should write in better clear English because most of the mail was incomprehensible…

      All I did was take out the words you didn’t need and adjust the rest to read okay when they were gone. :)

      Hope that helps you, Hans. . . .

      Thank you for thinking such nice thoughts about the way I write. They mean so much to me.
      Liz

    11. July 11th, 2006 at 4:51 am
      Hans said

      hello Liz thanks very much for sending me such a nice and clear response, thanks very much you don’t know how much that has helped me and think this gonna continue do more good to my writing from now on. Thanks for it ;-) You know in order to get to focus about that I’m gonna blog about those comments so that this gonna stick with me.

      Now I get to understand myself better, gonna cut down on those fat words that were cluttering the line ;-) and thanks for the encouragement : that my writing don’t s*c* thanks very much……..get to bring more fresh and crispy content, I’m at the side of my RSS Reader ;-) see ya ;-)

    12. July 11th, 2006 at 6:17 am
      BlogoSquare | my must should as a writer said

      [...] While getting to write something, I was long searching why if I can say, my writing was difficult to grasp. Why the message behind it was not reaching my readers the way I wanted it? I’ve been constantly poked by others(teachers, friends, contacts..) that getting the message out of my writing was a bit difficult for them. So in the hope of improving my writing and language skills, I was getting to the side of Successful-Blog.com that gets to deliver good writing and various skills for those relying on that to live. So yesterday I just came out of my RSS Reader and got there to tell Liz about it : [...]

    13. July 11th, 2006 at 7:30 am
      ME Strauss said

      Hi Hans,
      I was just over at your blog reading the post you wrote. I see you a change already. You keep writing and you’ll keep getting better. Keep reading work you like and looking at how it’s written.

      Good writers read a lot. :P

    14. January 15th, 2007 at 5:49 am
      Liz Strauss at Successful Blog - Above the Fold: 11 Things Right about Escape from Cubicle Nation said

      [...] Related articles Frosted Mini-Wheats Design that Hooks Readers Blog Design Checklist 5 Type Turn-Offs that Are Exit Only Blog Promotion: Checking Out Curb Appeal [...]

    15. February 3rd, 2007 at 10:04 pm
      Liz Strauss at Successful Blog - Reluctant Readers: Content Is King, But . . . I’m Too Tired to Read said

      [...] Related articles Frosted Mini-Wheats Design that Hooks Readers Great Find: Is Your Design C.R.A.P.? The “Got Milk?” Man, Chartreuse, & Liz Singing in Harmony [...]

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