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The Big Red Fez: How To Make Any Web Site Better Paperback – January 18, 2002

4 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For those trying to make their Web sites profitable in the lean years, Internet marketing sage Seth Godin, author of Unleashing the Ideavirus, has written a practical guide to making sites more attractive to browsers. The Big Red Fez: How to Make Any Web Site Better offers simple but frequently overlooked design tips (avoid inefficient pull-down menus, don't ask for the same information twice) that will keep impatient users from ditching your site before they buy whatever it is you're selling. Godin's primary mantra is to limit information on each page and offer clear incentives for clicking to the next screen. Each of his concise points is illustrated with an image from an actual Web site, making the book itself a model of simplicity that will be appreciated by busy entrepreneurs and Web designers.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

While the average computer book is as thick as the unabridged telephone directory to China, Godin's new Web marketing manual is so slender you'll actually want to read it. Geared primarily toward those designing, building, or owning retail Web sites, the text encourages us to picture the would-be shopper as a monkey (wearing a red fez) whose attention will wander if he can't instantly find a "banana": a simple objective on each page that leads to a reward. (The author insists the comparison is not demeaning, saying we're all monkeys once in a while.) Though he may be part of the insidious gang that seeks the best way to part us from our hard-earned cash, he is also a de facto consumer advocate; it turns out that what we find most annoying in the online world--Flash sites, crappy search engines, Spam--are the very things that cut into revenue. Imagine! After this brisk and humorous read, even a monkey would agree that this is how business ought to be done. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1st Fireside Ed edition (January 18, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743227905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743227902
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #563,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Seth Godin is the author of eighteen international bestsellers that have been translated into over 35 languages, and have changed the way people think about marketing and work. For a long time, Unleashing the Ideavirus was the most popular ebook ever published, and Purple Cow is the bestselling marketing book of the decade.

His book, Tribes, was a nationwide bestseller, appearing on the Amazon, New York Times, BusinessWeek and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. It's about the most powerful form of marketing--leadership--and how anyone can now become a leader, creating movements that matter.

His book Linchpin came out in 2008 and was the fastest selling book of his career. Linchpin challenges you to stand up, do work that matters and race to the top instead of the bottom. More than that, though, the book outlines a massive change in our economy, a fundamental shift in what it means to have a job.

Since Linchpin, Godin has published two more books, Poke the Box and We Are All Weird, through his Domino Project. He followed these with The Icarus Deception via Kickstarter, which reached its goal in less than three hours. Joined by Watcha Gonna Do With That Duck and V is for Vulnerable, those books are now widely available. In late 2014, he announced his latest, What To Do When It's Your Turn, sold directly from his website.

In addition to his writing and speaking, Seth was founder and CEO of Squidoo.com,. His blog (find it by typing "seth" into Google) is the most popular marketing blog in the world. Before his work as a writer and blogger, Godin was Vice President of Direct Marketing at Yahoo!, a job he got after selling them his pioneering 1990s online startup, Yoyodyne.

You can find every single possible detail that anyone could ever want to know at sethgodin.com

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I find it difficult to believe so many people liked this book:
The author starts off with 'bad' examples that admittedly have been made on many websites, but are really to obvious to put in a book of which the author is claimed to have 'inimitable wisdom' (back cover).
Then, towards the end, more examples of 'good' design are given, and most of these did not impress me at all. At some point I even got the feeling this was some sort of brochure (given its size, you can hardly call it a book) written to advertise the websites of Godin's friends and clients.

The enormous amount of research the author must have done is nicely summarized in this quote from page 105: 'Find the sites on the web that are working and copy their organization.'

If you're looking for a good book on this subject, look up Steve Krug or Jakob Nielsen.
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Here's a good start if you're looking for some quick and pithy insights into what works on a web site and what don't. Lacking in depth but not in perspective, Seth Godin delivers on his promise of giving 45 brief critiques on web sites, good and bad.
Two quick equally brief observations:
1. Mr. Godin has a wealth of direct marketing knowledge using both online and more traditional techniques. Both the reader and the writer would be better served if there was more substance in this book. A terribly quick read, this book misses the opportunity to tell more.
That said, the Internet is the greatest direct marketing medium ever, but that ain't all it is. While the direct marketer in me understands the need for the banana, sometimes the site needs to do something other than sell. Some of these sites and emails look much better as informational programs than they do as sales pitches.
2. How could Adobe take its ubiquitous, powerful and intuitive Adobe Reader product and mangle it into this "eBook Reader?" Ugh! We'd all be better off with a standard PDF version of this book (like "Unleashing the IdeaVirus). I'd pay more than the three bucks for a truly readable copy.
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Format: Paperback
Let me first say that I'm a huge fan of Seth Godin. That being said, this is not one of Seth's better works. A better title might have been: The Big Red Herring: A few of my web page pet peeves.

Here's how the book breaks down. There are a total of 111 pages. There are 46 mini-critiques which are comprised of one page with a single B&W screenshot of a webpage or email and a facing page explaining what you're looking at. These pages are usually only about 3 - 4 paragraphs (half the page). Of the 46 mini-critiques, 7 are about emails. This leaves 39 mini-critiques about actual websites.

I think that for the money we should have had at least a few of the screenshots in color, particularly the one where Seth tells us that the buttons are the wrong color, but doesn't mention what color they are. We don't know, we're looking at a B&W picture.

There are only about 13 unique insights. So each insight is repeated an average of 3 times. In the book Seth himself says, "Redundancy is often the enemy of a great web experience". Well, ditto for the book experience.

The first web site listed on Seth's recommended site list is the book's. You'll find that the only content on the web site is directed toward selling you the book that you're already holding. There are no extra web site critiques or examples. What's the point? As Seth himself would say, "Where's the banana?"
3 Comments 16 of 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Author of several brisk, witty, and informative business books, Seth Godin has a unique gift for locking in on a core concept and then explaining why and how it can guide and inform thinking about an important business issue. In this volume, he focuses on "how to make any Web site better." His dual metaphors explain the meaning and significance of the title. Preferring a marketer's version of a Web site to that of an engineer, he suggests that "One of the best ways to remind yourself about what's really going on [when someone visits a Web site] is to think of a monkey in a big red fez...The best way to motivate the monkey [to take a desired action], of course, is to use a banana. Whenever a monkey walks into a new situation, all it wants to know is, 'Where's the banana?' If the banana isn't easy to see, easy to get and obvious, the monkey is going to lose interest. But if you can make it clear to the monkey what's in it for him, odds are he'll do what you want." Obviously, the monkey is the Web site visitor and the banana is the incentive mechanism.
Godin uses a number of different real-world Web sites to illustrate what is and is not effective; he also explains why. (Presumably many of those responsible for the ineffective Web sites have read this book and made the necessary revisions since it first appeared about 18 months ago.) One of the book's most interesting points concerns the quite different mentalities of the engineer and the marketer. The former assumes that smart people have plenty of time, know precisely what they want from their online surfing, and can make a considered decision if provided with sufficient data. In stunning contrast, the marketer assumes that people are busy, ill informed, impatient, not very thoughtful and eager to click on to something RIGHT NOW.
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1 Comment 28 of 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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