When doing right for your users loses you money, time to do something else

 1906 Newspaper Ad

The Graph That Changed Jon Bell
[Via Daring Fireball]

Jon Bell of UX Launchpad, on his time at Real Networks a decade ago:

One day my manager showed me a horrible graph. It was pretty simple: the graph was steady, then it dropped straight down, then after a short period, the line shot straight back up and stayed level again.

“That’s what happens when we do the right thing”, he said while pointing at the drop, “and that’s how much money we lose. We tried it just to see how bad it was for our bottom line. And this is what the data tells us.”

“Wow,” I said, taken aback. My employer clearly had two options: “do the right thing” or “be profitable”. That was the position they had maneuvered themselves into through a series of bad management decisions.

Once you’re backed into a corner like this, where your users’ happiness and satisfaction are no longer aligned with your revenue, you’ve already lost. It’s like the dark side of the Force — you should never even start down that path, or you’ll be corrupted.


The problem  with too may companies, especially ones based on ad revenue, is that the needs of their users do not always align with its customers- – those who [ay the bills.

Because at some point the company will likely have to choose. And it will have to choose the customer’s needs which will cause users to leave, starting the death spiral that kills the company.

Can this be beaten? Probably not very often.