Working for the Greater Good

Published on 15th November, 2007

As consumers, we’re generally pretty bad at understanding what we need, and articulating those needs to suppliers and manufacturers.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it has become far more transparent in the age of internet applications, product blogs, forums, and the like. Take a look around most product forums, and you’ll find numerous indignant demands for essential features, without which the product is useless.

Of course, if the developer were to acquiesce to every such demand, the resultant product would be as widely maligned as Microsoft Office. A big part of creating software, building a web site, or designing a product, is having the courage and vision to say “No, you cant have that”, or “No, you dont want that, you want this”.

It sounds arrogant, but the alternative is a world overrun by animated paperclips.

There is a line though; a line beyond which you’re doing things for your own benefit, and attempting to pass them off as being good for our customers. That really is arrogant.

Marketers are particularly culpable in this regard, and appear oblivious to the fact that their customers have the intelligence to judge when something tangible is of benefit to them, or simply the result of laziness.

You shouldn’t have to preface your email newsletters with the statement “This is not SPAM”. If you do, it’s because it is.

You shouldn’t have to start a direct marketing letter with the words “Specially delivered by hand to ensure you receive the enclosed”. If you do, it’s because your customers dont want to receive the enclosed.