Tuesday, January 8

BBC's Inside Dot Com: so not inside!

Initially I was excited to hear that The Beeb was running a documentary series, Inside Dot Com, following the trials and tribs of a few early-stage interweb startups.

But judging by the clips on YouTube, it stinks. It could only seem "inside" to someone standing very far outside, or perhaps someone standing inside but experiencing it all for the first time, from a video-editor's visitor's chair, like a documentary producer who's previous body of work was on antique furniture or wildlife documentaries.

LOL: this crowd call in an "advertising agency" to tell them what consumers "think of the site's design". Like almost every time I've seen an ad agency give feedback on a website, the conclusions are all about the site's graphic design - it's brand feedback, not its user experience. A branding study is valid, but you should be conducting that before you buy a domain name and design a brand, and you should never, ever confuse a brand focus group study with a usability study.

Somehow, advertising agencies got away with pitching TVCs as storyboards and radio ads as scripts for so many years that they think it's OK to test websites basically the same way. It is so not.

Classic moment: the ad agency guy presenting the focus group results says, "and my son didn't even like it" as if that's the killer blow. Any time I hear "I/my kids/my wife didn't like it" I know it's time to stop paying attention and wind-up the meeting. That's a big, pulsating warning sign above your head that says, "I do not understand that this should be about something deeper than initial reactions to colours, shapes and styles. And I do not understand that this is about a target audience, of which I am not a member. Neither is my brat emo child, who hates me enough to veto all of my work."

Disagree? Your honour, I call Larry and Sergey as my first witnesses. They certainly didn't waste any time getting an ad agency to show a few A3 printouts of the Google homepage to 20 people prepared to spend an hour in a small room for $50 and a few sandwiches. Nobody in that room would have said, "Oooh, I like 'google' as a name. When I think of search I immediately think of the word 'google'." Nobody would have said, "I think showing each letter in a different colour is a great idea. And you can't have too much plain black text on a white webpage, if you ask me!"

This one isn't even an interweb startup - it's a shop with a website - not even remotely the same thing. If The Beeb can't appreciate the difference, I'm afraid watching the series may be a waste of time.

Final insult to our intelligence: the Beeb won't allow YouTube users to embed these videos on their own pages (or I would have posted them here instead of linking them.) They're not full eps, they're just highlights. Ack!

Another example of the old media not grokking the new. Did we need another?

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