Your Baby Is Ugly (and So Is Your Website)

Do You Have the Courage to Change It?

By Published on .

From "The Hamptons" episode of Seinfeld
Jerry: Is it me or was that the ugliest baby you have ever seen?
Elaine: Uh, I couldn't look. It was like the Pekinese.
Jerry: Boy, a little too much chlorine in that gene pool. And, you know, the thing is, they're never gonna know, no one's ever gonna tell them.

You'll either get a good chuckle out of this or think, "What an idiot."

We have (already) had to redesign When we first launched, the feedback was universally positive:
  • "It looks good."
  • "Good information on there."
  • "I like the design and colors."
  • "Pretty."
Doug Zanger Doug Zanger
I was riding high and figured that I was on the right track. This was going to be great. I was beaming with pride. Until I called my radio consultant friend. For the sake of argument, let's just call him Newman. I really like Newman and highly respect his opinion. I once sold him a pair of shoes when I worked at Niketown in Portland, and he is one of the people who has been instrumental in my development and success over the years. His feedback:
  • "It's confusing."
  • "There's too much going on."
  • "It's too hip for the room."
  • "I don't know where to go."
Whaaaaaaaa? Wait a minute. This website was supposed to be a bastion of information, chock full of useful nuggets that will fill the radio bowl of success. This mild shock was replaced, almost immediately, with the sinking realization that he was absolutely right. The good mentors are like that. They let you bumble around a little, pat you on the head, then tell you what you may want to consider doing next. To Newman's credit, he always tries to let me down easy, but he makes his points with constructive candor. Jack Welch has nothing on Newman.

My designer and I went over Newman's list of feedback. We both had a great deal of time and emotional energy invested in this project and it could have been very easy to dismiss it and move on. But we didn't do it. We checked our egos at the door and rationally dug in to find that we had a good site that needed some things to happen to make it a very good site. Fact is, we drastically improved the usability and relevance of the site with just a few changes. We'll continue to go through this same exercise every week or two. This is one of the many reasons I like working with my web guy, he's always satisfied to never be satisfied. Thankfully, we made this a best practice before we got into this too deeply. I shudder to think what would have happened if we had let a healthy dose of arrogance get in the way.

At first, I wondered why I called Newman. After all, he called my baby ugly. Imagine, though, what could have happened if I hadn't picked up the phone.


Quick Hits

Have you ever wanted to tell someone you work with that their "baby" was ugly? If so, what prevented you from doing so?

What's the most challenging thing about getting/giving feedback that can be difficult?

How would you define constructive candor?

By the way ...

Here are some of the songs I was listening to while writing this post. They seem to be good "writing songs."
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