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Content Strategy For Slow Experiences with Margot Bloomstein

Patagonia website
Patagonia commissions beautiful photography and writes long-copy articles for users who are really interested in the outdoors.

I know it’s late April, but I’m still filtering through my SXSW notes.  Next year, I’m getting a closer hotel so I can write on the fly!

Margot Bloomstein is a leader in the field of Content Strategy, and this year she gave a talk about slowing down user experiences on the web.  This was contrary to everything I thought I knew about web interactions – the idea that people might want more copy and spend more time on a commerce site.

However, during Bloomstein’s talk, I realized that a slow experience does not have to be a bad one.  I’ve spent hours bouncing around Wikipedia or YouTube, but I don’t consider those to be bad experiences.  In fact Bloomstein cites these two websites as examples of a slow but enjoyable experience – you can go at your own pace and on your own path. Bloomstein offers ways to translate some of these experiences to retail sites.

Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

What is efficient is not always effective.  Bloomstein notes that what people rate as “slow” web experiences are actually frustrating experiences (“That was horrible and it took forever!”).  A site may be designed to move users through very quickly, but that may result in errors or confusion.

Brands that do slow experiences well


REI offers a litany of information about each product, including videos, long-form descriptions and user reviews.

Patagonia – Bloomstein lauds Patagonia because they are in-tune with their audience.  Patagonia hires people who love the outdoors to write for people who love the outdoors.  They commission beautiful photography to make their site an experience rather than a quick stop.  Customers have the option to move through, purchase and leave, but the site is full of long copy articles, links and product descriptions that allow users to make their own way through the site.

“Even their shopping cart is long,” Bloomstein notes. “But short doesn’t fit their customers, who want to learn.”

Before you check out, the site asks if you are sure or if you want to look at the products again.  This is counter to the philosophy of most retail sites, where they aim to take all barriers out of the way of a purchase.  Rather, they want to make sure that you are getting items you really want.

“It’s not about short-term ROI,” Bloomstein says.

IKEA – Bloomstein likes IKEA, because the site encourages users to take their time and “figure out what you like about this item.  Does it suit your needs?” Customers are offered many different looks and options to view and compare other products.

REI – This outdoor gear site makes the grade by offering a huge amount of content on product information pages. This includes videos, comparisons to other items and customer reviews. ”

“They respect the consumer,” Bloomstein says. “They don’t want to rush you to a sale. They want to be sure you love the product and the experience.

What are your favorite slow-experience websites?  Please let me know in the comments below.

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