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Links and articles about technology, design, and sociology. Written by Rian van der Merwe.

Hey Marketers, making a website is not about you

Seth Godin just published another very weird post1 called What works for websites today? He makes a couple of claims that, to me, show what the biggest problem with Marketing is today. I’ll get back to that, but first… Seth says:

[An] effective website is created by someone who knows what she wants the user to do.

No. An effective website is created by someone who knows what users want to do. And she uses that knowledge to build something useful that is also easy and enjoyable to use.

He continues:

The only reason to build a website is to change someone.

Wait, what? No! We have a name for that. It’s called persuasive design, or at the far end of the spectrum, dark patterns.

No, the only reason to build a website is to enable people to do what they want to do.

Good user experience has both good utility (it fills a customer need) and good usability (it’s easy to use). The problem with many Marketers today is that they too often make it all about the company, and not about user needs. I’m sorry, but it’s not about changing people, and it’s not about making them do stuff. That’s old school thinking from a time when brands could steamroll their way into the consciousness and wallets of people through clever advertising and sleight of hand. Those days are over. Now our job is not to make it about how awesome we are, but how well we help people accomplish their goals.

Let’s respect our users and their needs. Let’s not treat them like puppets that need to be controlled.