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I was recently handed a copy of Seth Godin's book, The Big Red Fez: How to Make Any Web Site Better. I thought I'd share my impressions.

On the downside, the book is now six years old. That's a long time in Internetville; some of the ideas no longer seem ground-breaking. And all of the websites he critiques have been updated since the book was written.

Still, the book's main points – if no longer revolutionary – are sound. I'm going by memory here, as I've since passed the book along to coworker. But my main takeaways were:

  • Don't assume your visitors are patient, focused and intensely interested what you're offering. More likely, they're distracted and impatient.
  • Think of a web page as a direct marketing piece: each page should have ONE main objective.
  • If you try to please everybody, you end up with a mishmash that pleases nobody. Focus on pleasing those who matter most.
  • Each page's primary objective should be crystal clear. Think of your visitors as monkeys… and make sure they can find the banana!

Much of the above sounds obvious, but clearly it's not obvious enough: most websites still don't pass the “monkey looking for a banana” test. So it's good to be reminded of these fundamentals.

Big Red Fez, is a quick and compelling read, written in a lively style with a healthy sprinkling of humor.

Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think is the ideal book for 5-hour flight. Big Red Fez, at just over 100 short pages with plenty of screen shots, is ideal for a 1-hour flight. Recommended.

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