Friday, October 21, 2005

How to build a better lens

So, our amazing (and tiny) squad of beta testers have built a few hundred lenses. Some of them are pretty thin, some really jump off the page.
What’s the difference?
If you get a chance, take a look at Seth’s lens. I designed this page as an example of chunking and storytelling.
Chunking, because the best lenses divide the world into tiny bite-sized chunks. A long long list of links (which is what most web pages that fashion themselves as lenses contain) is completely useless to the average human. The goal here, remember, is not completeness, it’s to give me a toehold. The best bookstores have a little display at the cash register to get you excited about exploring the bookstore and buying stuff. The smartest people I know don’t spend all day showing off how much they know–instead, they focus on a few topics and make it easy for the people they’re dealing with to engage in a conversation.
Same thing happens on a great lens. You expose a few points, just a few, maybe as many as five. Then move on to another module.
Less, not more.
Which leads to storytelling. The point of a great lens is to convert someone from a stranger into someone with enough confidence to actually click on something. Remember, on almost every single page on the entire web, the single-most clicked on button is BACK. Your goal is to have a narrative, to tell a story that unfolds and makes it easy for people to get what you’re up to.
So, as we expand the beta and you get your chance to make your first lens, or if you want to build a lens somewhere else, make it chunky.

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