Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

Nobody gives a f*** about your website.

It’s true.

OK, so it’s not entirely true in all circumstances.

YOU care about your website because it’s your job to, and your boss cares because she signed off the budget, and your web designer cares because he’s a web designer. But… nobody else does, least of all your customers. So, even though it’s not completely true – here’s why it’s a good attitude to have, and how taking it to heart can improve user experience, deliver better results for your organisation and ultimately make the world a better place™.

First, let’s consider what a website actually is. Usually, it’s a series of lines of code in what’s basically a text document, stored online on a server somewhere. When a visitor types in the address of a particular page on that server, their web browser is sent that document. The document carries instructions to the browser, eg ‘First, make the background blue. Next, print a title that says “Welcome to this Website”. Next, go and get an image and display it on the left” – and so on.

Essentially, a website is a delivery mechanism for content. The content could be words, pictures, videos, or a combination of all of those things, plus maybe some forms or widgets that make other stuff happen. That content and those things are what’s important. Those things are the ONLY reason people will visit your site. Those things are what your boss should have approved a bigger budget for.

All the website does is present content to visitors in a helpful way. It’s basically like a set of magic shelves that – at a minimum – makes it easy to see where things are. At best, it tries to anticipate what they might want to look at next, and move that shelf forward so the thing is easier to reach.

Remember when you used to go and buy things in actual, tax-paying, shops? (I’m harking back like this because the metaphor is more effective. If you’re Gen Z, ask your mum.) 

Did you ever, even once, say “hey I bought this great thing and, guess what? The shelf it was on was AMAZING.” No you didn’t. Unless you’re a shopfitter or some other weirdo with a special interest in that kind of thing. The shelf just did its job. The only reason you would notice the shelf at all is if you were just about to pick up the thing you wanted to buy and, as you touched it, the shelf collapsed and the thing smashed and then the proprietor pointed to the “you broke it, you bought it” sign and then everything was bad. 

Or – a more likely scenario – you couldn’t find the thing you wanted – so you poked around on the shelf where you thought it should be, and then finally got the hump and stomped off to ask someone.

In either scenario, you’re only noticing the shelf because there’s a problem.

And that’s why, not only does nobody give a f*** about your website – but nobody should even NOTICE your website. And if they don’t – but they can do what they need to do there easily and quickly – then your website is working perfectly and you should go and hug your UX designer and give them some cake.