Websites ‘suck’ today because of the ‘hippo’

These comments by Avinash Kaushik, Google’s analytics guru, are true for many corporate websites. He “thinks one of the reasons why so many websites ‘suck’ today is because of the hippo – as in the ‘highest paid person’s opinion.’

And, yes, you’re likely a hippo – a successful advertising executive, CMO or brand manager, pulling in a six-figure income, often found pontificating about what does and doesn’t work online. You use tried-and-true metrics such as unique visitors and click-through rates to decide on the best design for your landing page or what content is best suited on your product site. ”
[Source: AdAge]

In my experience it is often the least qualified person in the building who gets to decide the design and functionality for the company website.

This is a a fascinating phenomenon. In many other industries people actually take notice of their domain knowledge specialists. You don’t find people telling the bridge engineers to move this pillar over 3 metres to suit a personal aesthetic. But in web everyone is an expert and can tell you how to do your job.

Many people working in advertising and marketing are steeped in print media tradition and knowledge and have little understanding of what the web is like and how people consume that media. I do wonder if this will change with a new generation coming through or not?

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire
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Author: Kate Carruthers

Kate Carruthers is Chief Data & Insights Officer for UNSW Sydney, and is also an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the School of Computer Science & Engineering. She is certified in information security and is currently undertaking postgraduate studies terrorism and security. Kate has extensive experience in senior roles in ICT, marketing, data and digital; and is a member of the NSW Government’s Data Analytics Centre Advisory Board. Kate is currently working at the intersection of data analytics, AI, ML, privacy, cyber security, and data protection.

One thought

  1. How incredibly true! I’m sure that anyone involved in web development – or IT in general – can agree with the “personal aesthetic” comment. I wonder, though: those of us who *do* understand why things are set up the way they are, do we not speak up enough for ourselves? Because we’re not in the “hippo” position, does that make us more hesitant to stand up and say, “No way!” when pushed to the wall?I had it happen just yesterday, and of course, since I didn’t speak up, something failed to work correctly. Wish I’d just stuck to my guns!

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