This will help give your website its best shot.
The Institute for Health and Human Potential¹ defines emotional intelligence as the ability to:
- Recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions.
- Recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others.
The self-awareness of emotionally intelligent people enables them to communicate in such a way that the receiver has the best possible chance of interpreting the message correctly.
These people know what to say to whom and when to say it.
"The self-awareness of emotionally intelligent people enables them to communicate in such a way that the receiver has the best possible chance of interpreting the message correctly."
They can gauge whether the other person is too mentally overloaded to listen, simply misunderstanding the message, or receiving it with full clarity.
They have their fingers on the pulse of the effectiveness of the communication and can adjust accordingly.
Since a website is not a person, how does emotional intelligence translate to a digital venue?
We all peer through our own unique lenses in terms of our personal preferences and egocentricities when we write copy and make design choices for a website.
But, we also know that the website should be designed to please and attract the target audience, not ourselves. It must be "emotionally intelligent" enough to communicate effectively with the people you most want to touch.
With that in mind, here are four critical questions to ask yourself as you create emotionally intelligent copy for a new webpage, blog post, etc.:
Question 1: Did I consider the potential questions my audience may have, and answer them on the website with all of my defenses down?
Of course you have considered the potential questions, but what strategies did you use to answer them?
It’s a scary thing to put your work out there on the internet—I mean, others are actually going to see it! And judge it. If we are consumed with worry about how the presentation will be received, it can make us too cautious and timid, take risks that are too great, or, through other means, alter the way we communicate.
Here’s an example:
"If we are consumed with worry about how the presentation will be received, it can make us too cautious and timid, take risks that are too great, or, through other means, alter the way we communicate."
In a desire for others to think I am smart or competent, I plaster the site with big words intended to impress, not realizing that this tactic simply confuses the issue and fails to communicate the message to the audience effectively.
Question 2: Did I give the reader the information they deem most important first?
You may have some very clear ideas of what you think they need to know first, but you must be sensitive to what they think they need to know first.
Your shiny new press release may do a great job of highlighting your successes, but what your audience wants to know is... “How can you help me?” Answer that question first, then they will be interested in news related to you.
A great way to engage in free research is to invite several people from your target audience to do a website review.
Be careful not to ask direct questions about the site. Just let them tell you what they think. You may find that they answer questions you didn’t even know to ask! Ideally, you can do this in person with each reviewer.
We wrote out a more in-depth blog post on this type of research. Check out the post, The Number One Thing to Do Once Your Website Launches, for more information.
Question 3: Am I too afraid to display the personality of the organization on the website?
Brand personality is an effective differentiator. Some have said it is the only differentiator left in business—that nearly everything else can be replicated by a competitor.
Even if you disagree with that statement, you probably see that personality is missing in the digital assets of many organizations.
This starts high up in the organization. If the boss is afraid to integrate a little personality into the website, you have to ask, “What is this person afraid of?”
Personality is very…well, personal. And, there will always be a few who don’t like your version of it. But most people respond very positively to personality in an organization. It helps them feel they know you and can relate to you.
Your website is your most valuable business tool. Sometimes, it is the only opportunity you will have with someone searching for your services. Don’t miss out on your shot for people to get to know you and your organization out of fear.
Question 4: Did I use ample whitespace to develop design that gives the end user room to breathe?
When engaging with someone face to face, the emotionally intelligent person has a sense of when that person needs space and when to stop and check for understanding.
While you can’t sit side-by-side with a person when they are perusing your website, there is one emotionally intelligent design trick that accomplishes the same thing in the digital environment: whitespace.
Whitespace is your friend.
You’ll notice in this blog post, I generally don’t have more than 3-4 lines in a paragraph (on desktop). You may also notice a little extra space that’s been added between paragraphs. And the headings we scatter throughout the blog to move you more smoothly through the content are set off with whitespace before and after.
We take the time to do this formatting so that you, reader, aren’t overwhelmed by large blocks of text.
It’s the digital version of the verbal pause.
These questions are a good start to bringing that emotional intelligence to your website, bringing clarity to your message. What do you think? Is there anything you would add to this list?
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