Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Our customers are stupid and we treat them like dirt

The finger You know how it is. You go away on holiday, and when you come back, something really bad has happened. No, not NBC making dumb decisions about its online Olympics coverage, that's about what I'd expect from an old media firm (here's a hint NBC - either put it online or don't bother).

The surprise was the dumb move by Bloglines to force (notice the f-word there rather than the c-word) all users of its newer beta service to read all their blog subscriptions as pale grey text (#666666) on a white background. (And while we're at it, no, I don't like the new redesign either - much less readable.)

Now if someone gave me the choice of reading pale grey text on a white background ... I wouldn't take it. But no choice was involved here. How could a company like Bloglines get a decision like this so wrong? And why am I making a big deal out of such a small change?

Because the way people act online has changed, and trying to force things on them is a very, very, bad idea. Isn't it, Microsoft, NBC, etc? I still don't like Google Reader - I can't explain why, I just never have. Except that now, I dislike it less than I dislike Bloglines, so it looks as if I'll have to learn to like it.

And that's why this small thing is such a big deal. I can't believe Bloglines won't reverse this change very shortly, but even then, I suspect the damage will have been done and they'll have played right into Google's hands. And this from a "new media" company which is supposed to understand this stuff! Image how bad it's going to be when your senior manager starts telling you how to use Web 2.0 tools for education...