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My Bad Experience with Good Experience

Good Experience must be the classic barefoot child of a cobbler, unable to do for themselves what they do for others.

The Good Experience website says that their mission is “is to encourage the creation of good, meaningful experiences in business and life.” That says, “usability” to me, because that’s the mental slot I have to put them in.

I met the Good Experience guys back in the winter at Shop.org in Atlanta. I gave them my card and vaguely remember telling them that they could put me on their mailing list. I was very surprised to get their first mailing because it was such a bad experience. It was all text (no html) with lots of naked links, lots of hyphens used to break the text up so that they could advertise job openings — just unreadable. I wrote Mark Hurst, the CEO, after my first disappointing experience and he explained that text pulled better for them.

I never read a single issue of their newsletter, and this weekend, I finally unsubscribed. I immediately got a “personal” email from Mark. He called me by my last name and asked me if I could help explain why I was unsubscribing. (Note: I try very hard to never let someone subscribe to my email marketing with poor information. If they have signed up with their first name in all lower case, I go in and capitalize the first word so that my marketing does not come through as, “Hi jim.” Since I know that the GE people had my business card, I was surprised, again, that they hadn’t gotten this right. I don’t remember the last time someone called me “Steif,” when they weren’t writing about me in an article.)

Anyway, I wrote back and explained that it was too hard to read the newsletter, as explained above. Mark replied that I could always go read it online and provided a helpful link. So I clicked on the link in Firefox and was confronted with the tiniest type that I have ever seen online. For completeness sake, I asked Taylor, our 22-year-old analyst, to look at it, and it was way too tiny for him to read, too. Of course, we could increase the type size, but is that a good experience? Eventually we figured out that if you open it in IE, it is not bad at all. So I guess Internet Explorer Users all get a good experience once they get past the email and Good Experience’s “personal” email.

To be fair – Mark really did reply to me in person. And it really is hard to do for yourself what you do for others, often because great gets in the way of good and you end up doing … nothing. Been there, done that.

Robbin Steif
LunaMetrics

Robbin Steif

About Robbin Steif

Our owner and CEO, Robbin Steif, is an analyst herself. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association (formerly the Web Analytics Association.)

http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2006/10/03/my-bad-experience-with-good-experience/

5 Responses to “My Bad Experience with Good Experience”

Anonymous says:

Can’t say I share your opinions on this one. GE is a good experience, the newsletter simply readable (not clouded by distractions) and the type displays just fine on my browser — Safari.

Anonymous says:

But doesn’t that defeat the purpose of a “good experience”? I haven’t been to the site; I’ve only read about it from this post. A good experience should occur no matter what browser you use. I use Firefox too and if a website does not render properly in Firefox (which rarely seems to be the case for the websites I visit usually: SEO + Internet Marketing types), I’d probably not go back there if I can help it.
Sherwin Ramnarine

Anonymous says:

I’ve subscribed to GE for as long as I can remember. I really value the content. Surely that’s the biggest part of the ‘experience’?

I’m not knocking design, I appreciate something that looks good. But I’d rather receive something meaningfull in plain text than super-pretty with little or no value.

These were all good comments and since Sherwin did a great job of adding thought to the first comment, I will only dwell on the third one.

You make a good point, Anonymous #3. Isn’t the point of a good experience (capitalized or not) the content more than the design, as you say? The problem is, when you can’t see the content because it is obfuscated by design, it is all for nothing. A waste.

Sometimes, when I want to understand a problem really well, I take it to the extreme and then it snaps into focus. So think about those perfectly awful sites, the ones that have music and a pattern on the background while doves fly across the screen at the same time you are trying to read what it says. The kind of sites that win “Worst Design of the Year” awards. If the content is great, does that make a good experience?

I felt (and continue to feel) that I have so many opportunities to learn online and even offline that I don’t need to struggle through anything that is hard to read. But then again, it was MY experience. Your mileage clearly varies.

Mark Hurst says:

Certainly I have no intent to make text too small to read – it’s something I’ve railed against in past columns, such as this one.

If there’s something we could change in our CSS or HTML that would improve the experience for Firefox users, let me know and we’ll work on it.

As for plaintext e-mail versus the Web – I make Good Experience available in both formats so that people can choose their preferred experience.

We really are trying to make things better – online and offline – and I appreciate the enthusiasm of the longtime readers who have commented above.