August 18, 2008

Color By Numbers

This is an image of a tiger, created when one colors by numbers. In other words, each "pixel", if you will, has a number associated with it. If you follow the directions, assigning the right number with the right color in each pixel, you will obtain this exact image.

Is the image pretty? Maybe. Could you draw this image yourself? Unlikely. What would you pay for this image if you saw it at an art fair? Nothing.

This image largely reflects what has become of e-commerce.

Our legacy of following best practices yields a bunch of websites that look like this tiger. Now granted, if you currently freehand a stick version of a tiger, best practices are very important. But as customers, we're looking for more from e-commerce than color by numbers, aren't we?

With more than a thousand folks forecast to read this essay, I'd like to offer a challenge. Use the comments section of this brief essay to input links to e-commerce websites that are the opposite of this image --- share with the audience websites that you think do anything but "color by numbers". Describe the innovation you observe.

You get extra credit if the website innovation is backed-up by flourishing sales and profitability!

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