In the 2004 book, ‘The paradox of choice – More is less’, Barry Schwartz argued that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers. I would generally concur, that less is more so long as there is a decent choice, well more or less.
Less is more is an important precept in minimalism and design and serves lots of other practical purposes too. So how does it pertain to the world of publishing and ourlocality specifically?
Well, we are all busy and have no time to read everything in depth, so smart publishers try and get our attention with a catchy headline, an attractive or arresting image and a few short introductory words to tease you to read a longer piece.
Our publishing system automatically creates snippets for categories (the first 250 characters), but it cannot create catchy headlines, nor rewrite your turgid or overly long text, nor pick a copyright free pic for you – you have a spend a few minutes doing that yourself or your news page will become a scrollarama. Once you’ve got the idea it is pretty easy and quick to do this, plus we have some powerful ways to give you a great deal more control over your content than at first appears.
The first of the tricks at your disposal is the “More link”, which if carefully inserted after the first paragraph (or 2 if they are really really short), will smarten up the appearance of your news page instantly. More is definitely less!
The second technique involves writing a unique snippet to accompany the full article. This can be handy if you’d rather not rewrite the intro to the article (perhaps you are reproducing it having obtained the owner’s permission) but you want to highlight it an attractive or different way. You can do this in the edit post page by adding content to the “Excerpt” box.
A common error among our publishers is to neglect the title entirely. This is schoolboy error, which girls are not immune to. Result? Your page will not being easy to find and may look a bit stupid in syndicated content (you do want people to read your stuff don’t you? They won’t follow a blank or “Untitled” link).
Another common error is to provide no text at all as an intro to a mainly graphical story. Unless you are really good photographer, or your site is entirely photo based, chances are this will result in few people being able to retrieve your content, or being underwhelmed (post poorer pics to your facebook by all means as it will be instantly forgotten, but be much more selective about what you share on the website, where spelling and grammer errors are more likely to matter!). Those introductory words of explanation also help lazy (well they are busy actually) search engines categorise your stories and images, and make them easier to find by your readers. Your readers will appreciate your efforts too, as the snippets magically appear in the search results.
So the paradox breaks down, a bit. The less effort or thought you put in – the less you get out. But a little more goes a log way.