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Why Having a Purpose Matters on the Web, Too

Why having a purpose matters on the web, and how it can drive inspiration and create web products that actually matter to people.

Before a story is even written, it’s easy to imagine the beginning and the end. Say, for example, in the beginning, a girl finds a bag full of hundreds of thousands of dollars. A lot of things happen. By the end of it, the girl is bloodied, and emotionally and physically exhausted by the events that had occurred just hours beforehand. The hundreds of thousands of dollars she had is now gone, and she doesn’t really care about it anymore. She’s happy she’s alive.

See, those things do matter. What happened in between where the story of this girl began, and where it ended? Why is she covered in blood? Where did the money go? Who is she?

On the web, knowing the beginning and the end is great. The beginning, in this case, is almost always the project and the fact that it needs to be executed. There’s a 25% of the story right there. Yay. And the end, of course, is when that product is finalized and introduced to the public for mass-consumption. Designed in an effort to achieve the end-goal of selling more products, or services, or drawing more attention to a particular brand. And with that, you might have roughly 50% of everything.

But the stuff that happens in the middle — the elements that get added or subtracted in the design process — is just as important as knowing the beginning and the end, because it supplies that project with a purpose. And a purpose is something that provides a motivating force behind a project. And as much as some people might downplay the importance of having a purpose, particularly in marketing — “Just have at it!” they say — that idea can, more often than not, work as a guide in all of your marketing efforts.

And whether that idea is simply a motto, a message, or a particular piece of information that you are trying to convey to an audience, it can often be crucially important in any project — web-based, or otherwise. Here’s why.

A Purpose Will Provide Direction

Having a purpose, regardless of the scope of your project, is perhaps one of the simplest ways to provide direction for a project. For example, if you’re building a venture capital fund — let’s take Google Venture, in this case — you don’t want to simply say that the entire purpose of your fund is simply to give start-ups money.

Instead, your purpose should be to provide funding to help create ideas that matter. Or to have ideas grow. Or to enable brilliant minds to do brilliant things.

Having a central purpose will help you to recalibrate when something isn’t going well — why isn’t this new approach working? — and will help guide you in all of your efforts in the near future. It will help you better understand the things that you need to pursue, and those that you should most likely avoid.

Basically, ask, what are we trying to accomplish here, and why does it matter? Doing that even before you begin any project can be hugely beneficial.

A Purpose Drives People

As much as blindly throwing darts at a map can occasionally yield some interesting results, it probably isn’t the most efficient way to create something that people truly care about. A purpose, on the other hand, is easy for people to get behind, particularly if it contains values that those people ultimately find important.

A lot of the time, web design can feel lifeless. Maybe that’s simply because we’ve become so used to web design from the late 90s and early 2000s that is without purpose, and exists simply to market ‘things’ without necessarily understanding how it wants to market those ‘things’ or even why.

But I think that just like the late 50s and 60s marked a serious revolution in advertising, resulting in such brilliant ad campaigns as the Volkswagen Lemon campaign, online marketing is evolving in a similar vein. Consumers are increasingly less likely to respond to forms of online marketing that don’t necessarily resonate with them, and exist purely for the purpose of marketing stuff. But websites that are fun, and social media campaigns that are engaging and that have an essential purpose will start to attract consumers more than anything.

In terms of marketing yourself online, what is your purpose?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

theseawasveryangrythatdaymyfriends July 25, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Don't thank Mario, thank GOOGLE. There's nothing approaching individuality within millions of miles of this corporate sham.
Joan McDaniel July 25, 2012 at 09:27 AM
Hard to know for sure if this is what your talking about, but. I am new to attempting to use this medium to communicate an idea. My personal idea. I have used the internet for communication and for fact finding. I dislike the "in" media establishment like facebook, I will avoid Google if I can. I have little actual knowledge of what is web design but as far as the little guys I support quite a few. Independent thinking instead of group think. If what you speaking of is like what has taken over the medical field, then I do understand. Get along don't rock the boat don't stand up for a principle. They have lost all individual thought to protect the status guo thinking that's the only way to protect the income source. Hopefully a few creative people will prove them wrong just as the normal medical world is being pushed aside by the Naturopathic or holistic. Modern medicine has let practices that harm people take over just to protect the status quo. Where are the individuals. the people of purpose? My blog site http://coconutcreamcare.com
CCBaxter July 25, 2012 at 10:44 AM
Joan you are a dying breed I'm afraid. God bless you.
Joan McDaniel July 25, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Well Thank You. Glad to meet another. Keep the Faith and NEVER Give in or up.
Mario Mirabella July 25, 2012 at 05:04 PM
That may not be true. Google may be the largest search engine, but its not the end all when it comes to marketing yourself or business. Now I promote SEO and SEM all of the time and we have an excellent track record with placing businesses on the first page of Google. But it's what you do with your branding after the visitor clicks your link is what is going to reel in that client. Social Media campaigns are very important as well to define your target audience and of course offline campaigns. There are many companies trying to be different with marketing approaches and surge of mobile campaigns has proven to be huge as well.

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