37 metaphors to guide your website

July 20, 2011

Campfire

Campfire. Image by Doug Beckers on flickr

In the words of those slightly creepy 70s popstars, Sparks, a metaphor is a glorious thing.

What’s your website all about, then?

Most people will narrow their eyes at this and mutter that, well, it’s a platform for talking about their services, or selling their products…it’s just a case of getting it all out there.

But what’s the feeling you’re after? Do you want to create a piece of glossy advertising  that will convince people that your business is rock-solid? Is it about creating relationships?  Broadcasting? Maybe it’s the rebellious feeling of an underground movement, or the intimacy of a therapy sesssion.

It helps to know.

The absolutely best metaphor can provide a framework for tone, language and content that will help you decide whether a new item or a new image is right for you.  If you’re running a virtual cocktail party, you might not want to add in a lecture.

It also starts to set out the relationship between you and your people.

Here’s a long list of different kinds of metaphors: places, things, news, events. You can take any of these and elaborate them.  Let’s say you think your site is a coffee bar. Is it the reliable international brand, like Starbucks, or the artisan roaster…or the cheap and cheerful 60s coffee bar with formica tables and plain sandwiches? You decide.

My website is a…

  1. Salon
  2. Playground
  3. Talk show
  4. Boutique
  5. Road trip
  6. Coffee bar
  7. Playlist
  8. Confessional
  9. Laboratory
  10. Greenhouse
  11. Nightclub
  12. Retreat
  13. Classroom
  14. Source
  15. Department store
  16. Stage
  17. Channel
  18. Round table
  19. Rollercoaster
  20. Recipe book
  21. Encyclopaedia
  22. Dining table
  23. Odyssey
  24. Discount warehouse
  25. Boutique
  26. Magazine
  27. Gym
  28. Kitchen
  29. Collection
  30. Breakout session
  31. Therapy room
  32. Column
  33. Fast food takeaway
  34. Farmer’s market
  35. Den
  36. Party
  37. Village hall

Mine? Ooh, tricky. Right now, I think it’s a workshop space – somewhere to try out ideas and get feedback. There are elements of rehearsal and improvisation. Maybe we’re getting ready for a show. ;-)

What’s yours? Tell me in comments – I’d love to know.

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Alison Clayton-Smith July 20, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Ooh, love it. I’m thinking allotment for mine. It fits with the name and my focus on growing insights. Allotments are also places where other people are doing stuff next to you and sometimes you interact and share (as opposed to a greenhouse, which is the first idea I liked). I know more people read my blog than comment, because they tell me. So I like this idea that there’s other people looking in to see what I’m doing and that they then take that back to their space to do something with. Also allotments aren’t perfect and pretty. They’re functional and quirky (reusing stuff in interesting ways).

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Ali Mac July 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Oh, I like that description.  I nearly put allotment in but I couldn’t work out the implications – that describes it beautifully.

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