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Let Me Decide How Your Website Looks

July 9th, 2008 · 11 Comments

BLUF: I want to look at your website with the information presented in the order I want it.  Mass customize your site by allowing your visitors to rearrange the info to their liking- an idea whose time has come.

My friend Steve Woodruff over at Sticky Figure proposes an idea to have a single user interface for web applications.  The idea is good but I think he misses the point.  Here is his idea in a nutshell:

One Interface to rule them all Part 1, Part 2

I’m on a quest (as I’m sure many others are) for the One Gold Ring – a single interface that will be my functional portal into the web. Right now, I go to too many places (iGoogle, Yahoo Mail, Google Reader, Flickr, Pageflakes, WordPress, Twitter, Plurk, Amazon, eBay, etc., etc., etc.) to “do web stuff,” and the fragmentation of these services is inefficient and frustrating.

Here is my counter proposal: Customizable Sites:

I want eBay and Amazon to offer me the ability to rearrange the way they present information to me in the way that I like it.  This way, I can make the sites that I visit frequently all look similar to me.  And you can make the sites you visit look similar to you.

This is the future of the web, mass-customization, you can glimpse it today on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Plurk etc.  I get to decide how your website looks, and how it presents information.  I can pick background colors, and the order of the information as it’s presented.

Talk about engagement! Talk about customer involvement!  A customer who customizes your website to their specifications is one who will return and use it much more than any other.

What do you think?

Tanks for reading,

Chris

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11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dave L // Jul 9, 2008 at 11:05 am

    An expensive proposition for large e-commerce sites. But they should set priorities and start beta testing, because it could greatly increase stickiness for some visitors.

  • 2 Rob Blatt // Jul 9, 2008 at 11:12 am

    To some degree the Greasemonkey extension in Firefox is allowing this to happen using CSS magic. However, being someone that works on websites, it’s extremely frustrating that all of the time, energy and money that was spent on the design will just get tossed out the window by some user that wants to change it up for the sake of making my site look more like amazon.com or whatever.

    I see it both ways, and I don’t think that anyone is right.

  • 3 Chris // Jul 9, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Dave,
    I agree it is expensive but I think it will be the way of the future. And the stickiness factor is huge.
    Thanks,
    Chris

  • 4 Chris // Jul 9, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Rob,

    Yes, GreaseMonkey is getting close but true simple drag and drop functionality is the goal here.

    I don’t think that the time and money spent on the design will be wasted. Currently we are dealing with the capricious browsers and CSS, and which font will be displayed. I believe this will simply be a new set of design constraints in website design.

    Thanks,
    Chris

  • 5 Janeth // Jul 9, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I like the idea.

    But would others be able to see the way that I like your site to look?

  • 6 Chris // Jul 9, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Janeth,

    That will be up to each site. I’m promoting the idea that eBay and Amazon allow their sites to be reorganized by each user. Similar to iGoogle or myYahoo.
    Chris

  • 7 Shawn K // Jul 10, 2008 at 10:24 am

    I like the idea of being able to rearrange aspects of a site, but their should also be limits to it. I’m not quite sure what those limits should be, but people don’t always know what’s best for them. And rather than be able to just pick colors, there should be themes. Sometimes a web designer will draw your attention to certain areas by use of color coordination, and that will be lost if one can just pick colors willy-nilly.

  • 8 Chris Kieff // Jul 10, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Shawn,

    Of course designers will need to work with the idea that users can move things around and change colors. It will limit the designers but create new design challenges and opportunities as well.

    Each site will have to decide what flexibility they will offer to users. Those that are more dependent upon the design of the site for presenting important information will need to limit user creativity. Over time the users/ marketplace will decide what is best.

    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Chris

  • 9 Rob Blatt // Jul 10, 2008 at 10:53 am

    I’ll admit that the site that I work on has the ability to change all block locations from the admin side of things, and I have floated this EXACT idea to the powers that be in the past. It went past a design issue for them and it became an editorial issue believe it or not.

  • 10 Chris Kieff // Jul 10, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Hmmm, Rob interesting point. But look to iGoogle and myYahoo for inspiration.

    This is the age of “Have it your way!” which is any way that you want it.

    I’d refloat that idea, because if you can pull it off, you’ll be leading edge and you will build a stronger community.

    Chris

  • 11 Bookmarks about Pageflakes // Oct 18, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    [...] – bookmarked by 4 members originally found by IrkenTrad on 2008-09-27 Let Me Decide How Your Website Looks http://www.1goodreason.com/blog/2008/07/09/let-me-decide-how-your-website-looks/ – bookmarked by 1 [...]

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