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Hollywood settles the copy vs design debate

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I’ve been going down a rabbit hole lately.

It’s the blockbuster cinematography design and storytelling hole. Look up a guy named Mike Hill on youtube, he’s an awesome designer for movies like the new Blade Runner, or games like Horizon Zero Dawn.

In his talks he goes over how blockbuster movies like Jurassic Park, Terminator 2 or The dark night, use the hero’s journey to captivate people into their stories. And why a lot of today’s movies fail to do so.

If you’re not familiar with the hero’s journey, it was formulated by Joseph Campbell and it’s basically the underlying steps that a main character goes through in every story done well.

The reason why the hero’s journey works and sync up with our brains so well, is that it’s the foundation of every myth ever told. And our minds learned to spot patterns and follow that story arc super effectively.

To make things work even better, movie directors like James Cameron or Christopher Nolan started using archetypes in their stories. Archetypes are a set of qualities and behaviors that all humans have. Like the mother or father archetypes, the warrior, the magician, the lover or the king.

All characters we’ve seen in a ton of movies. The combination of archetypes and the hero’s journey turned these movies into blockbusters for a reason.

It wasn’t just the story and the actors to make them memorable. It was the subliminal visual, psychological and emotional cues.

It’s about the details that our conscious mind doesn’t pay attention, but that our subconscious never forgets.

Things like using a bridge in a scene to represent a threshold in the story arc. And repeating the same scene with a different spin towards the end of the movie to convey closure.

Or even details like deliberately using colors in clothes, actions and camera angles to communicate specific themes or motifs that are part of the story.

You’d never pause the movie and say: “oh right! This is about these people coming together and becoming a family” (terminator and Jurassic Park). But your brain absorbed all of that in the background. And you’re loving every minute of it.

What’s the point when it comes to your website?

The debate on whether copy or design is more important, is usually framed badly.

Copy should come first in the sense that the research behind it informs the story arc, the narrative, the positioning. But UX and branding have their place alongside it, because they subconsciously communicate trust, ease of use and credibility (when done right).

None is less important than the other. They complement each other.

Reason why a lot of modern movies are not as memorable. They fail at either the storyline or the emotional, subconscious elements.

I always take this into consideration when writing copy.

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