Teaching, Promoting, Cheering UX and SEO Since 2002

Lazy, Greedy, Incompetent: Marketers, Management and Web Developers

Here is an example of what happens around the world over and over again.  The Marketing Department for a big company buys up ad space and pay per click ads in search engines, spending about $250,000, to advertise the launch of a new online product .

The product is still in QA, not signed off on, not even ready for Production. It’s literally not working, not passing performance testing and has had no user or usability testing whatsoever. Management demands the IT department to work weekends and nights to get the job done to save Marketing’s ass, which is turn causes employee errors, burn out, resentment and overtime pay.

No one in Management has the oversight to be sure that Marketers aren’t putting the company at risk by selling a product customers will dislike and write bad testimonials about. Everyone blames the QA Department for slowing things down, not realizing the value of these people to the long term health of the company. No one is trained in usability and accessibility, so these areas aren’t included in the game plan. They may come later as “enhancements”, if the budget can handle it.

But if the product doesn’t work and customers are upset, how does the budget improve to pay for these enhancements?

Waste and Greed

There’s continued grumblings in the The Marketing Vs Ux Debate. We decided to explore this annoying and frustrating practice of “my dad is better than your dad”.

By the time product manufacturers have understood the market it has passed them by and their product is a couple of years out of date. Creators of products, other than for the necessities of life, need to be futurists, years ahead of the market curve simply due to the lead time required to bring product to market.

It is also the mantra of large corporations. Smaller enterprises work off the inspiration of at most a few individuals, not the expensive forecasts of marketers and focus groups feeding into R&D departments which need to be kept occupied. It also explains the ‘me too’ lack of inspiration in the products of big companies.

Service providers, however, need to shift with the market, because they supply the ‘now’. A service provider who loses touch with where the market s/he services ‘is’ will soon have very unhappy ex-clients.


It has nothing to do with designers being on top of the political pyramid, or marketing. It’s about a proper management of dynamic tension and balance.


Detroit used to produce legendary concept cars in production runs. They long ago figured out they can get the publicity for being innovative with concept cars that never ship. Greed isn’t served, but lazy is.

Programmers and engineers and manufacturing might not be able to produce something because they, personally, don’t have the skill. More likely it’s not that they can’t, it’s that doing it would take — in their estimation — too much work.

They could build it, they just refuse. And innovation takes another one on the chin. Because the innovation which would produce a barrier to competition always seems like it couldn’t be done before you try …Otherwise It Wouldn’t Be A Barrier.

In my work, I finally realized I’m hired to find the errors that rushing to meet deadlines produced. Yes, it would be smarter to get usability audits done before roll-out, but if not, the sooner they’re performed, the better off a company’s reputation will be.


Come here my talk on How to Add Usability Heuristics into Your SEO Audit on Wednesday, October 8.


  1. October 7, 2008    

    That story sounds so familiar, and it probably happens at a lot of companies.

    In the end, I always feel that the root of it is poor planning and poor communication.

    I’ve seen cases where departments are silo-ed and there are 8 levels of management where directors are reporting to directors who report to directors. This is just a recipe for paper pushers to just get their own task done and not communicate with others.

    I’ve also seen poor operational processes where there is very little cross communication between groups even though each group is willing to pass cooperate. But in the end they don’t, because they’re not even aware of what the other groups are doing; often times resulting in building nearly identical products with different labor pools.

    Lastly, I think the most common cause is misguided upper management that provides direction, time tables, and make decisions on limited information. Sometimes part of it is because the management is out of touch of the technology or the marketplace… but many times it’s because information from the bottom isn’t being shared or is poorly represented when it gets to the top; almost like “the telephone game”.

    In the end, it’s like the case above.

    Marketing needs to buy ad space 1 or 2 quarters in advance to secure deals and prime space.

    They’re provided a product launch date from the Product Management team.

    The Product Management team were “given” that date by upper management because they need to reach certain business goals before the end of the quarter.

    Upper Management is under the impression that the date they gave is attainable because they were given estimates from the Development, Operations, and QA teams.

    But Development, Operations, and QA teams only gave rough estimates, and they weren’t able to provide full realistic estimates because they’ve never explored this technology before.

    And of course, everyone forgot about the Business Development team, the Legal team, and all the current workload of existing products to maintain.

    Hence leading back to launching sub-par products that haven’t been usability or beta tested. And of course, never being able to go back to existing products to refactor and debug code to make it more efficient.

    It’s sad to see all the finger pointing and the blame game going on. In the end, if everyone realized that intentions and motivations are the same (“make the company succeed”) … communication would be a lot easier, and things like scope creep, poor usability testing, and missed product launches would probably happen a lot less.

  2. October 8, 2008    

    Sounds like my old job… only there was no QA team so all blame went to the developers.

    You can’t go blame the sales team, because that was the CEO (who had a habbit of selling things that didn’t yet exist and told them they would be delivered within a week).

    I thought that it was a case of graphic artists trying to run a web-based software shop (no offense to graphic artists, it’s just project management is a seperate skill set) when it shold be run through software development best practices.

  3. October 16, 2008    

    I agree, there is no quality control any more in most of these products, they are just released and thats the end of it.

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