It’s Your Fault

March 3, 2008

I was once again interested in one of Seth Godin’s Blog posts where he talked about where blame is placed in different interactions. Just a quick reminder of his post;

If you buy my product but don’t read the instructions, that’s not your fault, it’s mine.
If you read a blog post and misinterpret what I said, that’s my choice, not your error.
If you attend my presentation and you’re bored, that’s my failure.
If you are a student in my class and you don’t learn what I’m teaching, I’ve let you down.

I think this is a great way to evaluate websites and online services or stores. There are a lot of websites that I visit where I honestly don’t know where to start, and I’m not an idiot, and I’m not bad with a computer so I generally consider a website that I don’t understand as one that has failed to do it’s job. If I’m a fish out of water than that is a different story, If I went to a website designed for someone with a Civil Engineering degree, and didn’t understand it than it is my fault. If I am part of the designated target audience than I should be able to understand and operate the site.

I had a professor once who had a rule that applied to this, it was that the first 75% of the classes mark was his responsibility, and the remaining 25% was the students. His reasoning went like this, if the class average was not at at least 75% than he believed that he had failed as a professor. Either that he marked to hard, his lectures didn’t reach the class, or he was teaching them using the wrong methods. He would adjust everyone’s marks up until the class average was at least 75%. This could also be applied to websites. Take Facebook for example, it’s job is to attract new users and keep the ones they already have. If I joined Facebook tomorrow and couldn’t make heads or tails of the site it is unlikely that I would stay, on the other hand if I get the main idea and am able to navigate through the site and all it’s features than Mark Zuckerberg has succeeded in making a great social networking website. It is up to the user to find out the fine details or the extra features that make Facebook extraordinary (and incredibly annoying). I think I’ll use this type of reasoning more often when trying to point blame whenever something goes astray.



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