Ugly Websites, Communications That ...


With a decent stack of potential fodder for a grab bag post, it’s decision time.

Here are the three vignettes that made the cut.

That’s One Ugly Website

If Warren Buffett was willing to take a pay cut, he could slide into the PR world as an account director with virtually no learning curve.

His ability to command a narrative and his strength of conviction make for a good PR combination. You could build a university class around storytelling in business communications using nothing more than his letters to shareholders for the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report.

Another thing I like about Mr. Buffett is that he delights in zigging when the rest of the world has concluded that they should zag. This quality comes out in the Berkshire Hathaway website:Berkshire-Hathaway Website 08-15This just might be the most sparse website on the planet.

Which I suspect is just the way Mr. Buffett prefers it.

With that said, I don’t think this design genre — affectionately dubbed HUG for “Hip UnderGrad” — will start trending anytime soon.

Clever Storytelling on the Home Front

You don’t necessarily have to be a trained professional to send out a missive that hits its mark.

Consider how this parent manages to cajole the kid to complete his/her chores (source: Fusion):Refrigerator To-do List 08-15The value proposition comes across loud and clear.

I like the cadence derived from the noun-verb structure.

Seems fair to call this a measured approach. Nothing too exotic in the list of chores like ironing or mowing the lawn.

Then again, a kid with even rudimentary hacking skills can “borrow” a signal in the neighborhood.

Young Brains on Bedtime Stories

I came across another addition for my archive on science in support of storytelling, this one from The New York Times Well blog.

This latest study from the Pediatrics journal found that the left hemisphere in the brain called the “parietal-temporal-occipital association cortex” – got it, there will be a test later – lights up when younger children are reading a story.

Furthermore, the study indicated that the more kids are exposed to books and home reading, the more activity occurs in the areas of the brain that process visual association. Here’s the kicker. This includes kids in listen mode who can’t actually see any pictures.

As the study’s lead author, Dr. John S. Hutton, put it, “When kids are hearing stories, they’re imagining in their mind’s eye when they hear the story. For example, the frog jumped over the log. I’ve seen a frog before, I’ve seen a log before, what does that look like?’

OK, the good doctor could have benefited from a bit of media training and a clearer example.

Still, the science ties back to the premise that we’re wired for storytelling at a young age.


  • Bill Hornung

    Another brilliant post, Lou. The “wi-fi” password note is perfect. And Buffett’s website might be simplistic, but you won’t get lost (more than I can say for many websites).

    • Lou Hoffman

      Thanks Bill. I agree with you. There’s beauty in simplicity. I’ve got a post in the queue for Monday that looks at 10 B2B sites that make good use of the “About Section.” What I thought would be straight-forward research morphed into reviewing 100 plus sites to find 10 that met the criteria.


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