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22 February 2008

Help Them S.E.E. the Truth

A few years ago a co-worker and I were talking about childhood and what happened when we really did something wrong. I'll never forget what she said about being spanked by her father:

My dad used to help me S.E.E. my mistakes.
In this case S.E.E. stood for a Significant Emotional Event. And the girls knew that if their father ever said, "Do you need to S.E.E. the consequences of your behavior?" a spank was soon to follow - unless quick behavioral change was self evident...

Now this specific Significant Emotional Event is a negative consequence. It would be like Pavlov shocking his dogs every time the bell rang. Eventually the dogs would flinch just by hearing the bell. Lucky for the dogs Pavlov was kind and chose positive reinforcement instead. He fed the dogs each time the bell rang, and eventually they salivated just by hearing the bell.

This got me thinking. A Significant Emotional Event can either be positive or negative depending on the event itself and the way it is perceived by the person. So I tried to apply it to web design by asking the following:
Could someone visit and experience a positive Significant Emotional Event?
I think the typical page on any website has a greater potential to turn people off than it does to inspire. Think about it. All it takes is for a page to have layout problems, broken links, incorrect dates or irrelevant copy and it can easily be a negative Significant Emotional Event for someone.

But can we create content that elicits a positive Significant Emotional Event for people? A page or component that creates a positive feeling on the same that a spank is negative?

I think so. In fact we've already identified one: Online streaming services

I think people are coming to, watching the message online and being changed. It could be that some are moved to tears. Or it could be that others are taking their next step in their spiritual journey.

Whatever it is we should work hard to provide online experiences that become (positive) Significant Emotional Events for those that show up.