“Us” vs. “Them”: Ego and the True Technology Divide

Posted on 18 November 2010

So, the world is finally catching up to the concept of Web 2.0, which is great!  To those of us who work on the web, web 2.0 is old news.  We’ve been thinking 3-5 years ahead.

“Web 2.0?  That’s SO 2004-2007!”

Unfortunately for our egos the world doesn’t work that way.

While most of “us” are web savvy, the rest of the world still isn’t quite there.  Working in a brick and mortar computer shop I had a chance to interact with “them” on a regular basis…and they’re EVERYWHERE!  I’ve come to realize that “we” are outnumbered quite heavily.  It’s that daily interaction with non-experts that opened my eyes…and I’ve not talked down to an end user since.

This is an end user!

Let’s use web browsers as an example… put me (or any of my co-workers) in front of a web browser and we’ll understand the basic functionality.  We know that somewhere we’ll find “Forward,” “Back,” “Stop,” and “Reload/Refresh” buttons and we understand how they relate to the experience of browsing HTTP…right?  Now think of your Grandmother…would she be able to navigate using Mozilla, Opera or another, non-mainstream browser?  If something doesn’t load on the page does she understand how “reload” works or how Flash and Java interact with the browser?  Probably not…in fact, most people don’t.  I bet you would be AMAZED at the number of AOL browsers that visit your websites!

Don’t get me wrong…I think that “we” are doing great things but let’s not forget who we’re doing all this stuff for.  Making something accessible and easy to understand doesn’t mean you’re playing to the lowest common denominator!

“End User” is too vague 0f a term and has added to this divide between “us” and “them.”  Replace the term “end user” with “Grandmother” and you’ll instantly remove the ego barrier that separates you from their experience.

How can you connect with the people that use your site?  How can that connection influence design, interaction, or response?  How much of a role do you have in planning out your company’s community strategy?  Do YOU feel connected with your end users?  More importantly do they feel connected to your brand?

Cheers!

-Eric


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