Angelina’s Leg and User Friendly Web Design

In case you missed it, Angelina Jolie made quite the impression at the recent Oscars by showing off her right leg. One small act was a marketing sensation.

Would it not be truly incredible if web designers were able to find and flaunt their web site’s sweet spot, I wondered? (Because of course, I see a woman’s leg and immediately think of usability, right?) I mean, come on. Another winner from a different category, a man, after seeing Angelina strike her pose on stage, proceeded to copy her and stuck his own man leg out while raising his head high in the same “I am Queen of this Universe” gesture that she did earlier.
Angelina Jolie in the news
It didn’t have quite the same effect, but since he was the first to follow up and repeat what she did, he is now famous too. Facebook meet Google Plus.

If you think your web site has the same type of stunning surprise for your target market and your data proves otherwise, what is the secret to making it zing and sizzle? What was it about Angie’s bared leg that compelled someone to create a Twitter account for it called “Angie’s Right Leg”?

Was it the element of surprise? I don’t think so. This is the Oscars and historically, the more drastic the ploy to get attention, the more chance for success. She had competition (a supposed nipple and tossed pancake mix for starters). We know who she is, so it’s not like she HAD to remind us by doing something spectacular.

Was it because she showed off her leg? I doubt that too. Had it been a long, slender hairy leg, the reaction would have been different. So, she knew enough to not only plan ahead by creating a strategy for implementing her pose (Had she seen the Super Bowl and Madonna’s hot “Strike a Pose” number?), but she made darned sure her presentation of the object, in this case her leg, was polished and perfect. She likely practiced before ever stepping foot on the red carpet and did user testing with Brad.

This is where web site design runs into trouble. There’s no plan. No planned strategy. No practice runs and user testing on a targeted, specific user group. There’s often no thought of mental models, persuasive design or getting experts to review the web site before launching it to the public. Angie was not posting in front of her bathroom mirror. She knew exactly what she was doing and was flawless in her presentation (however, I think she’s far too skinny.)

The magical power and subsequent global reaction was simply the smart decision to deliver exactly what people aren’t consciously aware they even want. She knows that buried somewhere deep in the DNA of every human is our love for beautiful things, including bodies. She knows that hordes of today’s women are strong willed, independent, proud of their achievements and sexier than ever. She knows her movie history too. While a black and white silent film won for Best Picture, the sad fact is that in those early days of film making women were covered up. Even Howard Hughes had to find a way to cover up Jane Russell’s breasts to make the censors happy.

Sure, Angelina Jolie and her right leg stepped out to show the world a few things that, whether or not we are fully aware of it, spoke to us. Not everyone accepted her pose with humor or good nature. Women called her a “whore”. Some people were angry. Others took the opportunity to complain about her life, movies, Brad, kids, causes, etc.

Kinda reminds me of the variety of reactions we may have whenever Google, Facebook or Twitter stick out a leg. Nothing keeps a brand (or famous person) front and center better than causing a ruckus.