(Adapted from a Facebook discussion, so some of you will have already been down this road with me before…)
So. I’m driving around one day with the radio on, listening to AC/DC’s “Back In Black” on a local radio station. The song ended, and without a pause or a break, launched right into “Dancing Queen” by ABBA. My first thought was, “Whoa, now THAT was a jarring transition!” (Listen to the two songs back-to-back sometime; you’ll see what I mean.) This particular station’s motto is, in fact, “You never know what we’ll play next,” but I spent the next several minutes thinking about how that’s not always such a good thing, and that the DJ (whether live or programmed, I don’t know) really didn’t seem to have put much thought into what I call “the art of the segue.”
The very next day, radio on again, but a different station this time, I was listenening to “Under The Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. That song ended, and again, the next song started up without a break, only this time, it was “Party In The U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus, and a big smile broke out on my face as I thought, “Aha! Now that DJ gets it!” Did the two artists have a particular style in common? No! But the guitar solo that ends the first song is nearly identical in tone to the guitar sound that begins the second; the two songs flowed seamlessly into each other. Even better, there was subtle subtext going on with the Southern California origins of the Peppers and the lyrics of Miley’s “Party.” Ask my friend Chris Jarratt, the graphic designer, and he’ll tell you that subtle cues are often just as important as the more overt ones.
So, what does all this have to do with web design? Well, in my youthful days as a non-professional DJ (as distinguished from an “unprofessional” one), I learned how important the art of the segue was when it came to setting a mood, or keeping the dancers on the floor — you have to learn how to successfully transition from one moment to the next in order to keep the message going. The same holds true for good website design; everything that goes into making up the design of the site should help move the viewer along through the site, so they don’t lose the train of your message. The way the text flows, the images and graphics, the navigation, even the color scheme should transition smoothly from one thing to the next.
Why? Think back to those original two songs by AC/DC and ABBA. While I like both songs, and had enjoyed listening to the first, as it turns out I missed most of the second song because I was distracted by the jarring transition, and spent the next several minutes thinking about that disconnect, instead of hearing the “message”, or in this case, the music. Don’t let your website viewers get disconnected from the message you are trying to convey with your site and end up losing them because of an unprofessional, jarring segue. It’s far too easy on the ‘Net to surf on to another website, so your site needs to pull the viewer in with smooth transitions.
Now that you know more about the power and the art of the segue, take a look at your own site(s), and think about whether or not improvements can be made in the way it transitions from one message, or one page, into another. If you have questions or concerns, you can always contact Diamond Mind Web Design for advice. We can help you turn “surf-by” traffic into click-through traffic!