Digital Democracy or Design Dictatorship?

Opinion polls are an essential tool in policy determination, workers’ councils and 360 degree assessments steer working practices and focus groups inform design and function. But often the voice of the masses is counter-intuitive to current industry opinion.

One famous example, quoted in Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Blink’, is Herman Miller’s Aeron chair. At a time when powerful executives had huge mahogany desks and opulent leather chairs this bare-bones, almost alien, design was set to fail, according to industry experts. Now it and its imitators are to be found in almost every office.

Why has it become so successful, despite initial expert industry opinion? Simply because it is loved by its users!

Website owners and developers traditionally make huge efforts with design to attract visitors to their site and to make accessing their content a pleasurable experience. But consider how a user finds a site, and why they are looking for it in the first place. When visitors search for content, the designs are not shown on search engine results, relevant search content is. So site design is simply not a factor in attracting visitors to a site.

Some believe that the look of the site will generate return visits. Measured data from over 20 Million unique users per month to Ezoic improved sites (which is also compared with control data from the original sites) shows this is not the case. Visitors ‘vote’ for the Ezoic variant they like best by their behavior on the site (time on site, page views per visit, bounce rates.) The data proves that access to relevant content and ease of navigation trumps an ‘aesthetically pleasing’ design every time.

It can be difficult for a site owner or designer, particularly an experienced one, to admit that an automatic layout technology platform can generate better performing layouts than they can, but in doing so the site owner respects the expressed desires of the visitors. It is the ease of navigation and overall experience that will bring a visitor back again rather than any one particular look. Remember Ezoic measures and compares performance of many variants simultaneously, something that cannot be achieved manually. Every time a visitor lands on an Ezoic site, they immediately give real-time, measurable feedback on what they like (and don’t like) about the site. No need for surveys, comments forms etc.

So much like Herman Miller’s chair, the initial idea may be counter-intuitive to those in the industry, i.e. site owners, but the visitors are showing clearly that they prefer Ezoic optimized layouts. Customers know what they like – we should listen to them – like Herman Miller did!

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