Not to beat a dead horse, but I’m going to talk about motivations again. In the past few weeks I’ve given quite a bit of thought to what motivates Google and now I’d like to talk about a few other web services and how their decisions are not necessarily in line with what’s actually good for their customers.
It’s not really a new story for web properties to put money or customers. Myspace has been doing it for years. Their site is so clearly optimized for pageviews over customer experience it’s sickening. The number of unnecessary steps in every action is just incredible. But they’re not alone, anyone who has received an eVite and been annoyed by the fact that you had to click through to find out the location/date/time will know what I’m talking about. (For those uninitiated in the ways of online advertising, the reason eVite won’t send this information in an email is that they only make money on showing ads and they can’t show you ads in an email — or at least they haven’t figured out how).
Anyway, when I read about how Drew had been kicked out of LinkedIn, I just had to write about it. You see, he had included the name of his company, Renegade, in the name field on his LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn doesn’t like this type of behavior because many people who include extra words in their name field are actually including their email to work around LinkedIn’s pay system. For instance, I might list my name as Noah Brier (firstname.lastname@example.org), so that if someone wanted to get in touch with me from the site they wouldn’t need to a) ask for a “LinkedIn introduction” or b) pay for LinkedIn’s premium service which allows someone to send as much “InMail” as they’d like (that’s code for LinkedIn user-to-user messages).
Facebook on the other hand, took the opposite approach recently by opening up their messaging. Now when you receive an email notification letting you know someone has messaged you on Facebook it actually includes the body of the message in the email (a feature which I, for one, am damn happy about). While in the short term this may cut down on visits to the site, in the long term this kind of customer-first strategy seems like the only way to go.
I’m quite interesting in how monetization needs end up driving product design in directions other than what’s best for customers. Ultimately this is a byproduct of publishers addiction to online display advertising.