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No one gives a shit about your website

Maintaining some perspective when working in digital publishing.

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve ever been given about websites is no one gives a shit about your website.

I don't remember who said it, or wrote it, but it lodged in my brain as a good mantra to function under. The phrase may sound like a cynical thing to say, but for someone like me who is very much involved in the business of making websites for other people, it's a useful way to keep perspective on what actually matters.

Strictly, it's a lie — there are people that give a shit about websites, but they will largely fall into at least one of the following camps:

  • People that make websites

  • People that make money from websites

  • People that pay people money to make websites

That’s about it. There’s a big caveat to this though, and I'll try to explain my point by extending that quote.

No one gives a shit about your website… unless it’s a shit website

When I say shit website, I'm talking about a website that:

  • Doesn’t do what you want it to do

  • Doesn’t tell you what you need to know

  • Doesn’t work

That’s where all the planning, design and development becomes crucial, but a website is only as good as the person that writes and maintains the content, so it's very much a team effort. From the perspective of someone who is outside of any of these activities (i.e. the people that actually use the website), the question of whether or a not a website is shit, is usually a simple one to answer — “I’m a customer of yours and I don’t really care how your database security flags are structured, but I will care if my card details get stolen.”

No one gives a shit about your website… but they (might) give a shit about you

Here’s a quote by Oscar Wilde:

The value of the telephone is the value of what two people have to say.

In the context of digital publishing, this translates to — a website is only as good as the message it is trying to project. Most websites are created because people want to communicate something, and if that message has value then the job of the website is to enable it.

I'm not convinced that this is a perfect way of thinking about things, but it's my job to make sure that I (and the people I work for/with) don't make shit websites, so it's something I think about a lot. Also, if your website it shit, people will probably give you shit for it, and why wouldn't they.

Ian Jones

Ian Jones is a designer and developer based in the UK. Currently working as a freelancer, he also dedicates time to independent and personal projects, as well as mentoring and teaching.