Do-it-yourself discontent

In her 2006 book, Talk to the Hand Link to other site - opens in new tab, Lynne Truss identifies her discontents with twenty-first century manners. One of these is ‘why am I doing this?’. While she acknowledges that ‘do it yourself’ was ‘a refreshing and liberating concept in its day’ it is now, she asserts, ‘completely out of hand.’ Her complaint is built around two areas of self-service: wading through ‘self-service’ menus on the telephone and using the internet. In both cases, she objected to the ‘unacceptable transfer of effort in modern life … Why do these people never put themselves in my shoes? … Fuming resentment is the result.’

While Ms Truss may express herself more forcefully and more publicly than most of your customers, she is not alone in her resentment. And whether the purpose of your site is to sell a product or promote a cause, resentful visitors aren’t going to help. So why don’t you put yourself in the shoes of the people who visit your site?

I love being able to pay my bills in ten minutes online, rather than standing in a series of queues for half an hour or more, but because this is a chore I need to undertake regularly, it’s worth the effort to learn the layout and logic of my bank’s website. For something I only need to do occasionally, I do not want to invest a significant amount of my time learning to do it your way.