Are You Barking Up The Wrong Tree?

Toffee the Jack Russell

The picture to the left is of our latest recruit, Toffee, a deaf Jack Russell, from the Last Chance rescue centre in Edenbridge, Kent. She's a funny thing, preferring company and someone's lap to chasing a ball in the park!

Having had her 3 weeks now and getting used to her needs we've adapted our style of communication to compensate for her lack of hearing, although sometimes I get the feeling she's only playing deaf so she can ignore us!

This got me thinking about how your website should not just be designed to help the visually impaired, by for instance making sure your images have alternative or ALT text to describe the image to be read by screen readers. But also for those people who think in a different way. What do I mean by this?

VAK - visual, auditory, kinesthetic

VAK - visual, auditory, kinesthetic are well known terms used by psychologists and further developed by Howard Gardner and his multiple intelligence theories.

In very broad terms both highlight that we all learn in different ways, some people are visual, some auditory and some kinesthetic although some have a blend of all three. This means that the design and style of language you use on your website is very important in communicating successfully with as broad a section of the public as possible.


So if your website doesn't have any imagery or the language you use is lacking in visual terminology then you're potentially not communicating as well as you could with those who see and learn visually.

Why not add some good quality imagery or rewrite your text to include sentences such as:

  • the look of your website
  • watch how you communicate
  • show me how best to connect

visual connection


Do you have video on your website or music? This could greatly enhance the experience for those who are auditory. Alternatively use terms such as:

  • I hear what you are trying to do
  • call us to speak to an expert
  • listen to me explain


To speak to those of a kinesthetic slant provide a live demo for them to try or use more touchy feely language such as:

  • I know how you feel
  • reach out to your customers
  • run an idea past me

How you use language on your website is very important and demonstrates to people before you've even met them how you might communicate with them in person. Will you see a customers' vision of their needs, will you listen to them and hear what they really need or will you reach out to them and make a connection that wins you the business?

VAK is also a powerful tool when meeting people and winning business. Picking up on how others use language and then using the same terminology back to them could well give a potential customer an insight of your business that they couldn't originally grasp. This could be the tipping point to winning a new customer.

Have you tried this technique on your website or in person? Has it worked for you?


Barry Welford's picture

I would go even farther and

I would go even farther and say these other 'dimensions' come into play with all web page visitors. The effects may be much bigger than a logical discussion might suggest.

Richard Dewick's picture

Website visitors

I agree Barry, this does stretch beyond just say landing pages but every page of your site. I find VAK really interesting and aim to do more testing on this in the near future.