This may be my favorite cartoon ever. The marvelous webcomic XKCD explains in one simple diagram what is wrong with most websites: They aren’t about what the users want.
Has this always been so? In 1981’s “The Soul of a New Machine,” Pulitzer-Prize winner Tracy Kidder describes an engineer examining Digital Equipment Corp’s new computer and seeing the flaws, not just of the computer, but of the entire company’s corporate organization:
“Looking into the VAX, West had imagined he saw a diagram of DEC’s corporate organization….The machine expressed that phenomenally successful company’s cautious, bureaucratic style. ”
Once the pinnacle of digital success, DEC is long gone, absorbed first by Compaq, swallowed in turn by HP.
The decisions an organization makes when creating a product reflect its structure. And it is common for internally-focused groups to unconsciously reflect this — essentially treating the organization as the end-user, instead of the intended audience.
via XKCD.com (used under Creative Commons 2.5)