Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gutting Your Product

The recession is making businesses do crazy things. While making the revenue targets are important, it's just as important to maintain the integrity of your product. Otherwise your product/service dies by a thousand cuts, all in the name of "revenue enhancements." Below is a great example from ESPN.com. ESPN has a strangle hold on sports in the U.S. The only thing that could upset their dominance is something self inflicted, something akin to Yahoo mixing in paid search results into natural search results back in the day (that's one of the reasons Google got traction).

Here is a screen shot from the ESPN home page late Monday night.

You can see my little red arrow pointing to the Apple ad on the right. That used to be where the headlines for the day's sports appeared. This is the complete screenshot "above the fold," meaning what the user sees before scrolling down.

Here is the rest of the page, after scrolling down.

The red box contains the headlines. They've been pushed down to below the fold! How can you have headlines that appear below the fold?!?!

It's a great example of degrading your product in search of more revenue. It probably didn't seem like much but it changed my whole user experience and chipped away at my loyalty to ESPN.