The first thing I remember, humourously enough, is an episode of Doctor Who. The Doctor, his would-be enemy and an innocent bystander were trapped in dead space, a region where time stood still, littered with derelict spaceships. They needed to find a specific part or face an unspeakable fate. To the Doctor, however, every part was precious and full of potential. He held up a small, rusty unit and exclaimed, “Look at this, isn’t it wonderful? It’s just so full of... stuff!”
That’s precisely how I feel about websites and blogs. Every website, every blog, is a treasure trove. Every article, every post, every piece of content is full of… stuff. This stuff, this 'content' is not distinct, it’s all connected — The photos, the videos, the gifs, the 3,548,951 words on Wikipedia — they’re all parts of the same mesmerising kaleidoscope. The fight isn't about who has the most stuff, but who spins their kaleidoscope the most elegantly and appealingly. So, creating valuable content is indeed about creating stuff, but it's also about the manner in which you organise and present this stuff.
The other day, I was teaching my parrot Cockles, some new tricks. With a slight tilt of the head and a curious gaze, Cockles was trying to understand my finger movements, decipher the purpose of the shiny ring and the little treat at the end of it. Needless to say, he was trying different ways of approaching it, sometimes with a disapproving squawk, sometimes with a determined peck.
Interactive elements on a website or a blog serve the same purpose as that shiny ring for Cockles - an invitation to engage and participate. The trick, however, lies in the smooth functioning of these elements. A button that perfectly reacts when clicked, a seamless scrolling experience, a gorgeous image slider - these are the subtle bits that make a user’s experience enjoyable, thereby making your website valuable. It's like a good dance partner who knows when to lead, when to bring you into the spotlight, and when to twirl you around effortlessly, leaving you with an unforgettable memory.
Have you ever been to a fish market in Fremantle? Imagine the crowd, the cacophony, vendors calling out, customers haggling, iceboxes, trawlers, seagulls, and amidst all that, my pet fish Ginger is missing. Can you imagine the anxiety? Now picture someone walking up to you, they have an air of confidence, they have the right equipment, the right bait, the right net - they’re an authoritative figure. You just know that they’ll locate Ginger.
It's the same thing with information on the internet — it’s a whirlpool of facts, data, news, opinion, fake news, and amidst all this, if your website or blog presents reliable, trustworthy, well-researched and referenced information, you become that authoritative figure to your audience. They’ll trust you, they’ll return to your site, they’ll share your content. This is the true value of authority — rescuing Ginger out of the maelstrom of the internet.
You know those mornings when you’re at your favourite café, waiting for your usual brew, flipping through the newspaper, and the barista remembers not just your drink but also your name? The feeling of being recognised, valued, and cared for adds a special flavour to your coffee. It makes you feel special.
This is exactly what your readers should experience on your blog or website. It’s called User Experience (UX) in the digital world. But really, it’s more like 'humane' experience. This is the heart, the core, the essence of a valuable website. The design is considerate, the navigation is easy, the content is organised, important elements are highlighted, there are clear call-to-actions, legibility is ensured, pages load quickly, and so much more. There’s a term in coffee culture – 'customer experiens', which stands for the emotional, psychological relationship that a customer has with a café. Websites and blogs also need to master this 'user experiens' to become truly valuable for their readers. Because the web world is not made of sites, it’s made of people.
The internet, much like the universe, is steadily expanding at an astronomical rate. The challenge to stand out, to make a blog or a website that’s truly valuable may seem as daunting as it is exciting. But if we remember to view our digital platforms as enchanting kaleidoscopes full of 'stuff', to offer interactive elements as enticing as shiny rings, to extend our trustworthy, authoritative hand amidst the wild whirlpool and make users feel as special as their favourite barista does, we will not just contribute to the digital cosmos, we will illuminate it.