As the technology and Internet industry matured, Creative
Good evangelizd shifting focus from engineering wizardry to
simplicity and common-sense marketing.
Get Over It
By Joe Gold, Senior
Ah, technology. In the view of most pundits,
it's the hero that saved the world economy and creator of
the most dynamic industry the world has even seen. It created
seemingly instant wealth and the caffinated culture of Silicon
Valley, resulting in new jobs that are fun and lucrative,
if challenging and exhausting.
At least, that's one way of looking at modern life. But
Phil Terry has another view of technology: get over it.
"If you want to make money, you have to forget technology.
You have to stay focused on people and your value proposition
to them. It's really not rocket science."
Terry is CEO of Creative
Good, the New York consulting firm that evangelizes
a simpler user experience. They preach the gospel of site
simplicity, singing in praise of Web stores that are transparent,
intuitive, quick-loading, completely understandable, and
a pleasure to use.
The user experience perspective reflects the most basic
definition of marketing: giving customers what they want
for a profit.
It's not just a nice thing to do. Terry says a simpler,
more navigable site translates into 40% to 100% more conversions
and 43% fewer abandoned carts. How much would that mean
on your site? Creative Good predicts that to the industry
this year, it will mean $14 billion in Christmas sales that
are never consummated. That up from the $6 billion that
the company estimates was left on the table last year.
Creative Good's complete holiday predictions will be released
at their eCustomer Experience conference, Oct. 11-12 (2000)
at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Francisco's Union Square.
Speakers from Priceline.com, IBM, MGM, Lucy.com, and Flooz.com
will be featured on an agenda that includes e-retailers,
wireless and entertainment companies.
a peopleist, not a technologist," Terry says. "The
paradox is that the technocentric paradigm built the success
of the past five years. Technology built the infrastructure
for the new economy to emerge. But as that new economy does
emerge, we have to go beyond technology and become people-centric.
"That which brought us here today has to be transcended.
It's not just about technology any more. Last year, investors
were willing to tolerate millions of dollars being spent,
while we were saying, 'Look, you're a business, you have
to give customers what they want and need.' People were
so caught up in the euphoria and the hype, they forgot about
Terry says that many e-retailers' inability to deliver
last Christmas was an important factor in last April's market
correction, and that this time around, the post-holiday
carnage will be more painful than last year. He expects
this to be the year global 500 companies take revenge on
their would-be pure-play attackers. "What will happen
is the rationalization process. In the next 12 to 18 months,
we'll see a more sensible approach to valuation and business
Creative Good is out to change "techno-centrism that
shows no respect for the limitations that technology imposes
on the people who attempt to use it." Brick-and-mortar
has a three-dimensional space, a history and a number of
other factors in its favor.
The Web is a two-dimensional space. People are intimidated
by technology, but at too many dot-coms, says Terry, executives
have little idea what their customers experience because
they are too excited about the technology and the coming
both Terry and founder Mark Hurst, the business of Creative
Good has always been a crusade for applying common marketing
sense and resisting the urge to add technological gimmickry
for its own sake. Hurst was at Yoyodyne in 1997 when he
found that the Web was becoming too complex at the same
time that customers were becoming more mainstream, two trends
that were at odds with each other. He started the company
with no business plan or marketing direction, only a mission.
These days, Creative Good gets weekly exposure with its
columns on ZDNet. Their own goodexperience.com site includes
a step-by-step "Dotcom Survival Guide" and other
free resources to improve customer experience.
This year, Terry says he saw his message catching on. The
phrase "customer experience" is gaining currency
in the industry, with new vice presidents and budget lines
He cautions that some have merely adopted the latest buzzword,
and still don't get the ethos of simplicity. Site design
activity is still focused on technical possibilities instead
of limitations, Terry says. That includes creating clear
paths to find what users want, effective searches, and a
minimum of Java applets, streaming video or sound to slow
down page loads.
In a year when e-commerce is shaking out and shaking hard,
an originally offbeat, almost 1960s-style customer-centric
idealism has been raised to a survival skill.
remains a force in e-commerce long
after the dotcom implosion, having turned nine years old