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January 4, 2002

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - The Big Red Fez

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 8:24 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

The Big Red Fez: How to Make any Web Site Better by Seth Godin, Simon & Schuster, 112 Pages, $11.00 Paperback, January 2001, ISBN 0743227905
Dont let the title confuse you: The Big Red Fez is not about the Schriners, or, more appropriately for Milwaukee (the setting for Happy Days), Mr. Cs Grand Poobah hat. Instead, Godins red fez belongs to an organ grinders monkey looking for his bananaor, in actuality, it is an unusual metaphor for a web user looking for information. The gist is that the monkey (web user) will only look so long for the banana (the information you offer) before ceasing his search or, at the very least, looking for the banana elsewhere. Our lesson? Make the banana (your information, of course) easy to find!
Godin warns us not to underestimate online customers. A large percentage of web users are experienced and looking specifically for a streamlined research and order process. The other percentage of web users, as you can imagine, consists of newer users who also need a user-friendly approach. So, what to do? According to Godin, we must remember the adage, You cant please all of the people all of the time, just some of the people some of the time, and not try to make the web site perfect for all users. This just creates a headache. Instead, concentrate on two things: keep your site interesting and easy to use. This advice first appears to be a bit obvious. However, Godin steps beyond the obvious, by doing the actual online research wed all like to do, and offers up his picks of the very best web sites and why they work so well. It is like having a researcher in our back pocket without the burden of payroll.
Any of you who offer a website to a broad range of customers need to read this book. Like a second pair of eyes, it will make hidden problem areas on your site apparent to you. The best thing is that you can log onto the internet as you read and actually check out the sites he talks about pretty hands on! The Big Red Fez is all about keeping customers, something retailers have focused on since before the advent of the web. Of course, it is more difficult than ever to keep those customers because we cant speak to them one-on-one, and we cant know them like we used to. So, we need to be proactive, read Seth Godins book, and make some changes, because, after all, we want the monkey to buy our banana first.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.