Please Don’t Do This: Ruffled Over Seth Godin


This weekend, in the midst of holiday hiccups of frantic rushing and chilled out sitting, the following popped up on twitter:

Seth Godin gives the worst advice ever in this post
Andy Rutledge

… linking up to Seth Godin’s blog post “How to make a website: a tactical guide for marketers.” I have enjoyed some of Godin’s thinking in the past; though it is often targeted at more marketing-style folks than I consider myself, there is marketing involved in what I do, and its useful. Even with this post, I could see a lot of good ideas, or parts of ideas, but all of that was overridden by a creeping feeling of separation, of dismissing understanding of your teammates, of thinking that the web can be created in some kind of weird silo vacuum. Best reaction to the blog post comes from Georgy:

Did a web developer kill Seth Godin's family or something? Seriously, what the hell?
Georgy Cohen

Any of the good bits in this article (websites lead to some kind of interaction that is not 100% technical, think about what you want to do before you just start whacking stuff together) is completely overridden by the horrid advice for marketers to put together a design of features from other sites into a presentation deck, hand it off to the developers with a “Here you go, do this” attitude and go away until your site bursts forth like an alien out of someone’s chest.

You don’t need a massive team to do every web project, but you do need other points of view. This feels freakishly exclusionary, not only of people, but of concepts. Maybe you don’t have a designer but is someone thinking about design? Can’t bring on a content strategist, but how are you employing a solid content strategy before you start ganking all those shopping carts and nav elements (that, hopefully, have their own strategy driving them… strategy that is likely different from yours)?

“Do not do any coding at all” also ruffled me quite hard. The elements you’re grabbing and dropping into your deck spec (thanks Jeff Eaton for that one) not only have code driving them, but code is going to be what your devs use to bring things together. While Godin could have meant for marketers not to muck with code, lest it need to be rewritten and is ugly, I instead see a dismissive “Let those developer types stick to all that fussy coding business.” And that kind of self-segregation by “type” or specialty can break web projects, and web teams.

Sure, we all have stuff we’re good at, and stuff we’re not so good at, or stuff we don’t know at all. But building sites is usually a team project, and making an effort to understand what your teammates do and what they know will make the project go a lot smoother. You’ll build respect for each other’s specialties and knowledge. Respect doesn’t prevent conflict, or remove all misunderstandings, problems, and barriers. But it makes working with them, and building awesome websites, a whole lot better.

Marketers, respect your devs – hell, respect yourselves -and don’t make a website this way. And Seth Godin? What’s up.

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