What has Mozart got to do with website design? Having got my wrist slapped last week for going too far off piste I hope to make it clear fairly soon lest there be trouble in the board room. One reason for choosing Mozart here is that his claim to the title of genius is so uniquely uncontested that any comparisons with the efforts of a humble web designer will be laughably ridiculous. Mozart was working at a time when composer’s were subject to very clear expectations. Music had very precise if uncodified rules and he, like his contemporaries, held to those rules in surprisingly precise ways. So why the adulation?
It would be possible to choose a Mozart piece, say a Serenade, and compare it with a simlar work by a contemporary and spot very few obvious differences in technique. Listen to both pieces and everyone from the professional to the first time buyer finds there to be a gulf in the quality of the effect. To find the reasons for that gulf you have to look very closely indeed. Even then there will be the inexplicable that makes human endeavour and particularly music so fascinating.
Amazingly there is a serenade by Mozart that is still a household tune. I am hoping we can imbed a sound or video clip to remind you how it sounds. People who would not recognise the language of its name (Eine kleine nachtmusik) will merrily whistle the opening bars. la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la. Now I am desperately hoping we find a suitable clip!!
As it happens these opening bars follow a very common pattern for the beginning of a piece of music at the time. I could find you many hundreds of pieces which follow the same pattern. The pattern depends on the underlying chords so it lays the foundations for the music. Mozart would not have changed it without a very good reason and to the best of my knowledge never did. I can only imagine the language had a student decided to make an offering based on an arbitrarily chosen alternative.
Comand over the rules means knowing when and how to bend them, it never means arbitrarily scrapping them for the sake of difference. Real interest comes when expectations are met but not quite, if ever, exactly as expected. It is obvious that mere adherence to rules and expectations is going to be deadly dull and send your listener/visitor away. See I am talking about websites really.
What do you expect to find on a home page? Where do you expect to find it? What does it feel like when you are researching and you cannot find the navigation in the usual place? Of course the answer depends on where and how easily you do find it? But if it irritates you there is a reason for it, if it makes you smile there is a reason for that too. Much has been said on this blog about the need for a website to have a purpose, to have goals. The expectations of your visitors are hugely important to the achievement of those goals.
The genius of Mozart is that he can meet his listeners expectations and yet push and pull them in delightful and challenging ways making you want to go back for more and more. If enough expectations are not met, and much music falls into this trap, then there will be a break down in communication, the listener gets lost. Literally in the case of many websites.
If business is about customers, finding them and keeping them, then business is about communication and your website is one of the most powerful means of communication you have. Our aim should be to meet our visitors’ expectations but not just quite in the way they might have expected.