Design Twelve / Sii Cockerill

Online Business Consultant, Designer & Developer.

If Man of Steel was a website

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains a few spoilers – but you’ve probably seen the film by now, so just keep reading ;-)

If you’re anything like me, over the last few years, you’ll have really enjoyed going to the cinema to see films like Christopher Nolan’s awesome Batman reboot, the amazing Ironman trilogy, the Star Trek movies and of course Daniel Craig’s Bonds (well, Casino Royale at least).

It’s no real stretch then to say that I’ve been really really looking forward to re-emersing myself in the wonderful world of Superman in the latest blockbuster, Man of Steel. In this article, I ask the question “What if Man of Steel was a website?” and have a bit of a moan at the same time.

The splash screen

So, I’m sat in my comfy seat and the big cinema screen has just done the thing where it resizes after the trailers finish (why don’t they just make the trailers in the same format?) and the film begins.

This world is Krypton, for the moment at least. There are dragon-like creatures flying around catching people in amidst exploding buildings and gravity-defying machinery. The special effects are impressive and for a few minutes, I’m interested.

But if this was a website, I’d be looking for the link to skip. Just like I look for the skip ad link every time I visit YouTube and how I used to look for the skip button on the website splash screens of yesteryear. I’m eager to get to the content… Boom, Krypton is gone. Oh good. We can get on with the story.

The Landing Page

Sii's Superman GlyphIf you’ve ever clicked on an advertsing banner, or you’ve followed a sponsored link at the top of Google, you’ll know how important it is that the next page you see let’s you know you’ve come to the right place. You might be looking for a repetition of the offer you just read, or just as likely, you’ll be looking for the same branding; colours, fonts, imagery, all as a way of reassuring yourself that “Yes, this is what I was looking for”.

Sitting there with a spoon in my mouth, enjoying my Ben & Jerry’s, I thought I’d been teleported to a different film. After all those dragon shenanigans, I really wasn’t expecting to find myself watching X-Men’s Wolverine steal some poor guy’s washing and prop up the top half of an oil rig. But that’s what I got, and it jarred with my expectations.

Whether you’re on a journey through space from Krypton to Earth or simply navigating the content on a website – you never want to feel uneasy about what’s going on. So, as much as I like to watch an X-Men movie, I was starting to feel like I was sitting in the wrong screen.

Site Speed & Structure

Another huge part of delivering a successful website, is to make sure that performance is high – and oh boy, do we get that in spades in this film. The special effects are insanely good and, not only are they good, they are fast too. Like; Superfast. Which is probably a good thing when we’re talking about Superman.

But if Man of Steel was a website, I think I’d have my Development Team check the page redirects. We seem to be bounced from one part of the site to another without any clear direction or engagement with the audience.

There’s an alien girl who keeps appearing and disappearing, popping up in one part of the page and then arriving in another, never giving us time to click on her and find out what she’s for. Clearly, she looks cool, but what is she for? Who is she? What does she do except distract me and make me dizzy? Ad block her, I say.

And then there are those flash-backs. They felt like the pop-up boxes you see on websites offering some kind of membership offer or product deal of the day. Stop interfering – take me back to the story!

If Man of Steel was a website, it would have to slow down a lot and it wouldn’t hurt to add in a few more signposts to help us navigate through. Whilst we’re all quite happy to jump from one web article to another, reading half-way down the page and then spending 10 minutes making our own Superman Glyph, there’s a big difference.

On the web, we are in control – and that’s the way it should be.

Great Content

Good web design puts you in control. You decide how long you want to engage in the story and you decide where you want to go next. We’ve already seen that Man of Steel would have to do some work in these areas to make us feel really comfortable, but it’s not the biggest place the film would fall down if it was a website.

Copyright: http://www.movieweb.com/movie/man-of-steel/PGCZlHAp6T9sGD/MbhOCNM9ASeL8VO

Man of Steel doesn’t answer our questions and that is what a good website should do. If you have a question, you should be able to find out the answer – regardless of whether you’re slinking around on the couch browsing from your phone or tablet, or if you’re reading on your desktop upstairs in the study – wherever you are, and whatever device you’re using, you should be able to get the answer to your question.

I’m *still* waiting to find out why Zod wanted Lois Lane to join Big K on his space ship. I can only assume the plot line was so ridiculously thin at this point, they thought no one would care. Or maybe that no one would notice while they were being distracted by all the incredible effects.

And that is the worst part of Man of Steel and why it just wouldn’t work as a website. I didn’t care about any of the characters in this film. I wasn’t emotionally attached to any of the ones that survived or the alleged 1,379,000 people killed or injured in Superman’s wake.

There’s lots of talk about making websites personal, sharing your personality and character and going the extra mile to make your visitors feel welcome and maybe even turning them into people who care about your business. In this film, I didn’t care if Superman died or Morpheus got crushed by a building or when Tin Cup was sucked away in the tornado. None of it mattered because Man of Steel was all about glitz and glamour, over the top costumes and special effects. If Man of Steel was a website, it wouldn’t draw you back week after week, day after day. You’d load it up, ‘wow’ for a few minutes, forget about it and go back to Google.

Conclusion

If Man of Steel was a website, it would look great and use all the latest technology, but it would leave you feeling like they spent all the money in the wrong place and ultimately dissatisfied. A great website, like a great film, should tell a great story and be full of great content.

So if you’re about to design your own website, forget about your favourite websites, forget about HTML5 and CSS3, forget about fancy Javascript effects and close your browser, turn off your phone and start writing your own story, because if that’s good, your website will be good too.