The Big Red Fez — Seth Godin

Saturday, 26 September 2009

This book is nice and short, but it could be a lot shorter. It’s supposed to help you “make any website better”. It invites you to imagine that your website visitors are monkeys looking for a banana. If you don’t make the “banana” easy to see and easy to get, they will go to another website instead.

I don’t think that viewing your visitors as monkeys is a good idea. But still there are some interesting points and mini-case studies in this book. Every point is two pages: one page for a screenshot, and one page (often more like half a page) for a bit of text. In many cases the text could have fitted on the same page as the screenshot, even more so if edited a bit.

Perhaps the best thing about the book is one piece of advice he gives several times: different variations on “Don’t take my word for it. Test it.”

And you might be wondering about the name of the book. Well, you’re supposed to imagine that the monkey is wearing a big red fez. Why? Does that help? It it relevant? Not really. It makes me wonder whether he came up with the title first and then had to stretch to tack a book onto it. Fortunately, the book is actually worth reading. But only once.

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  1. Hey it’s five years old. I’m glad it still resonated, at least a little. If people learn to test, that’s enough for me.

    PS do you notice that sites still get the whole “pull down to find your state” thing wrong? Sheesh.

  2. Yes. The book may have its shortcomings (what book doesn’t?) but still too many sites don’t follow its advice. The state dropdown menus just won’t go away. And it’s amazing how many sites still make a dreadful hash of non-US addresses.

    Sometimes I think that the monkeys aren’t using the sites — they’re designing them.

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