“Better” is a Relative Term

By Deane Barker on September 8, 2003

A couple of years ago, I was trolling for Web design clients and I found a site that looked a little dated and that could use some help.

So I sent the owner an email which was unintentionally a little condescending. I told him that his site was “a little behind the times” and that my company could valiantly swoop in and rescue him from his naivety.

This was his response.

Hi Deane,

Thanks for the offer. Before I say anymore about accepting or rejecting it, I’ll make a couple of comments. I know the site is simple. I also know that:

…I have been messing with this since practically day one of the internet;

…that my average client is 40-60 and doesn’t want to wear his reading glasses;

…that browser incompatibilities seem to be increasing, not decreasing;

…that data bases can go haywire and, when they do, you are really in trouble;

…that I do well in search engines because of the static nature of our web site;

…that the more every other web site looks like a portal, the less I want to;

…that every time I add another piece of java or another “dancing bear”, I almost always remove it because it didn’t add anything;

…that people love white space;

…that we get unsolicited compliments almost every day that most often comment on our speed, our readability, our simplicity, and, admittedly, our depth of content.

It turned out that he sold millions of dollars per month in merchandise from this site, and he’s a leader in his market. I just checked and his site still looks the same way it did when I sent that email, and based on his client list, he’s still doing just as well.

I force myself to read this email every couple of months. “Better” is a relative term. You may think a site looks silly, but you can’t argue with results.

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