Ya’ know, I want this blog to be positive – to be helpful. There is no intent to convey anger. But…(there it is!) Yep. This one’s for the idiots managing web databases, the ones charged with gathering too much information about all of us, no matter what.
With plenty of experience in databasing, please let me give you a thought: You don’t need to know everything about me – nor do you deserve to – unless the quid of your quid pro quo is substantial!
I know you’ve convinced your management that you can squeeze the number and location of all birthmarks from site visitors but you’re doing your company no favors. And if your CEO ever gets hold of stats from competitors who aren’t hounding users for data, and he realizes how you’re actually damaging the corporate image, you may well be gone. But, meantime, you’ll continue your harm.
Case in point. (This is just one. It happens all the time but this is the latest). Pantone. They generate color products and services. In fact, just about everyone is familiar with “Pantone 100 C” description. Cool company. In fact, it is the standard for colorimetry.
I happen to own one of their Huey products. It’s used to calibrate monitors so that you know what you’re really getting. And, not to overuse “cool”, but that’s what the device is. It works flawlessly on XP Professional and on Macs.
And then, I upgraded to Windows 7. Aha. Needed a new driver. Loaded the disc that came with the Huey and, of course, nothing there. So I made my way to the manufacturer website. There the milking started. Seems some database guy/girl there is convinced they need to know everything about me in order to give me the driver. And he/she did his/her doggoned best to make sure they got it, with every data box asterisked as a required field.
First: I paid for the doggoned thing. That’s enough.
Second: You don’t need to know everything about me in order to support your product. More importantly, I don’t need nor do I want to join your “club”. I don’t want your emails, I really don’t need your forums. I just need the device to work.
Third: If you do manage to pull the wool over your CEO’s eyes and convince him/her that you’re entitled to all that information, at least do a decent web design so that the page functionality doesn’t make me repeatedly complete the page, e.g., if you have to have (a good page doesn’t, but…) a phone number in a particular format, tell me it’s “xxx-xxx-xxxx” instead of returning the page with a “violation” and, at the same time, wiping other info you forced me to enter. Guys, that’s just insulting. But again, apparently you’ve been able to buffalo your top management.
I did finally get the driver and that cute Huey stepped up and recalibrated the video card in the new 7 machine in about a minute, but now I feel I’m on intimate terms with their website – all for their enabling a device they sold me to continue working.
Now one of my big issues is people who complain without offering solutions. So, here you go.
• Weigh what you’re offering against what you’re asking for
• Ask if you really need those data or if it’s just so you can puff out your chest or, worse, sell it
• Consider incremental databasing. Don’t know what that is? Then you probably shouldn’t be in your job. But when a person comes to your site the first time, you can ask for a bit of info. On return, you might ask a bit more. One more return and maybe some more. And, of course, if you sell them something, you’ll be able to gather additional transactional information. Don’t think it’ll work? I’ve seen it and done it.
Again, the point here is the positive aspects – if you’re running a database, think about what you’re asking for. If you’re entitled to it, go for it. If not, leave it out. Hey! It may actually improve business.