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Wednesday, 1st July, 2015 | By Jeremy Girard | Category: Website Design and Development

Indominus Site: Six Killer Lessons in Web Design from Jurassic World

The opening weekend of “Jurassic World” has established the movie as one of the biggest blockbuster releases of all time, but the film is more that just worthy addition to the franchise and a fun few hours at the movie theatre. Look deeper into Jurassic World and its success and you will find some important lessons in web design.

Timing is important.

With any movie, the timing of its release is an important factor in its success. Movie studios try to find an opening weekend free of other serious competition from similar movies and they also try to choose the right time of the year to release the film. There is something about the start of Summer and blockbuster, popcorn flicks that just works for many movie-goers, and that is one of the things that contributed to the monster opening weekend for Jurassic World – the right timing.

In web design, timing is important in that you need to choose the right time to redesign your website. If you wait too long, you risk turning many customers away with an outdated site and online experience. If you rush into this project, however, you may not give yourself the time needed to properly plan for the project and do it right.

Familiarity breeds liking.

One of the reasons that Jurassic World was so successful on its opening weekend, and why it had so much buzz going into that weekend, was that it was familiar territory for many movie-goers. The original Jurassic Park movie came out 22 years ago, actually ushering in the age of Summer blockbusters in many ways. Many people remember that original film and the franchise as a whole with fond memories, so returning to “the Park” once again was a familiar journey.

Familiarity is a critical aspect of web design that can make our site’s visitors feel more comfortable and help them accomplish their goals on that site (make a purchase, create an account, find certain information, etc.) more effectively. Common design treatments like a horizontal navigation bar or the contact details being found in the site’s header or footer (or both) are user interface elements that website visitors have seen time and time again on other sites, so when you embrace these familiar treatments in your design, you immediately give your site’s visitors something that they are familiar and comfortable with. New customers on your site do not need to learn the interface from scratch because right from the start it feels like something they have seen before.

Of course, there is a fine line to be managed here. If Jurassic World was too much like the original, it would suffer from poor word of mouth as not breaking any new ground in the franchise’s storyline. Similarly, if your website is familiar (which is a good thing), but does not do anything to also differentiate itself from competitors and other websites (obviously a bad thing), that site will suffer in other ways. The goal is to embrace familiarity while also firmly establishing your site (or movie) as new and unique.

Manage expectations.

Going into Jurassic World, movie goers knew what to expect – a summer film filled with action, humor, and dinosaurs. The trailers for this movie did a great job of setting up the basics of the storyline (the Park is now open, the scientists have created a genetic monster dinosaur, chaos ensues) so that audiences were not left wondering what the movie was about. Expectations were properly set.

You can contrast the pre-release marketing of Jurassic World with another pre-summer movie release in Tommorowland. 4 weeks into its release, this movie has made less than half of what Jurassic World has made in just one weekend! Part of the reason for this is that the marketing for Tomorrowland was shrouded in mystery. No one really knew what the movie was about, which meant that expectations were not properly set and many movie goers choose to skip the film altogether.

Setting expectations is very important in web design. Visitors to your site want to know what to expect as soon as they visit the homepage, so part of that page’s job is to set the tone for what the rest of the site’s experience will be. As soon as they hit that page, they are making a judgement about whether or not they want to continue deeper into the site – and they are making this call in as little as 3 to 8 seconds! This means that your site needs to not only set expectations, but it needs to do so quickly if you want to keep customers on your site and drive them to important information or features that will benefit your business.

Have fun!

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People go to the movies to be entertained. While some movies are meant to also inspire you to teach a lesson, the main principal of the Summer blockbuster is to have fun, and that is what Jurassic World does expertly! Leaving the theater, movie goers were laughing and talking about their favorite scenes. These conversations continued onto social media and beyond, carrying great word of mouth on the movie which encouraged more people to head out and see it for themselves. People like to have fun, and the bottom line is that Jurassic World is about as much fun as you can legally have at the movies.

On websites, fun is a characteristic that is too often discounted, but it can absolutely add so much to an online experience. A site that is not only useful and relevant (fun cannot replaces these traits, they have to be present as well), but is also fun is one that visitors are likely to enjoy their time on. If they enjoy their time on a site, they are more likely to tell others about it or “share” their experience on social media. A fun experience is also one that people are likely to return to again, helping a site build repeat visitors and business.

Now, many organizations think that their site cannot be fun because of the serious nature of their business, but “fun” does not need to mean “silly” and even the most serious site can benefit from a more enjoyable user experience. Speak with your web agency or marketing team about how you can add some delight and enjoyment to your website.

Closing credits

How big a success Jurassic World will end up being remains to be seen, but if the opening weekend is any indication, this movie will go down as one of the most successful of all time thanks, in part, to the traits covered in this article. By following these same lessons on our websites, we can grab some of that same success. On the flip side, if we ignore these lessons, we may find our sites as extinct as the dinosaurs, and there will be no scientists eager to revive our sites from the fossil records, it will just be gone for good.

Jeremy Girard
Jeremy Girard has been designing for the web since 1999. He is currently employed at the Providence, Rhode Island-based firm Envision Technology Advisors and also teaches website design and front-end development at the University of Rhode Island. In addition, Jeremy contributes regularly to a number of websites and magazines focused on business and the Web, including his personal site at Pumpkin-King.com.