Sunday, November 11, 2007

Book: Made to Stick

I am a non-book reading librarian and I readily admit it. I read articles, magazines, reports, web pages, but rarely books. Rather than curling up with a good book, I'm more likely to curl up with a stack of magazines or my Bloglines blogroll. Only a few books can capture and hold my attention. Recently, this one did.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath helps us understand why our users (or our coworkers) can repeat the latest web hoax, but can't remember anything about our projects. What we need to do is to create "sticky messages." Sticky messages are not necessarily creative messages. In fact, there is formula that the brothers Heath have discovered that will help us to create sticky, memorable messages. That formula is:

S -- Simple
U -- Unexpected
C -- Concrete
C -- Credible
E -- Emotional
S -- Stories

Two things you can do without even reading the book are:

  • Use the word "you" in your writings. Many of us write in third-person neutral, but it turns out that making the reader think we're writing for them helps them connect with our text. For example:
    • You will find on this web site...
    • We can help you research...
    • By using the advanced search feature, you...
  • Tell stories. Now once you read the book, you'll realize that you need to tell simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional stories! However, we tend to spout facts and figures, when people actually react better to stories. So find stories about your projects that you can tell, especially stories that tell how your project can help people.

If you want to learn about the entire formula, borrow the book from your library, borrow it from a friend, or order a copy. It is an easy and enjoyable read, with lots of stories and ideas you can begin to employ.

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