Write your website as a screenplay

Are you about to start working on your next website project?

Pause for a moment to consider a truth that may have well passed you by. Websites are no longer the stilted domain of web designers and web developers. In the early days of limited bandwidth and dumb browsers, using the print paradigm of pages and whatnot provided a recognisable context to work with.

But now that websites are more like filmed entertainment, why do you still use old thinking and old models and old software. All that’s guaranteed to do is produce the same old results.

Everyone is vying for everyone’s attention online. Your website is not competing with industry or sector competitors. Your website is now competing with everything the industrial entertainment complex is hurling at your audience. Your website is now competing with entertainment companies spending millions of dollars a minute to grab and hold your audience’s attention.  

You need to think about how to make your website more compelling than all the movie stars and special effects and screenwriters and directors in the world.

So don’t fire up Dreamweaver or Webflow or Sketch or WordPress or Bootstrap or Shopify or Squarespace or Photoshop or whatever. Don’t start doodling in your dotted Moleskine notebook.

Before you turn on any tools or start shifting any pixels, write out the website as a screenplay. Yes, just like you’re making a film.

Follow the accepted format in present tense. Literally open on page one.


Flash of light. We see the top of a website. Lots of white space. It looks and feels confident, reassuring.

The main image shows a ...

Go for emotional impact. Use all the tricks of the trade. Setups, reveals, switchbacks, beats, rhythms, twists, themes. Write out your websites as three escalating acts. Make the ultimate call to action the climax followed by the denouement.

Now more than ever we live and die by the screen.

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