Field Notes Blog
News and thoughts on UI/UX, web design, and more.
The concept of mass customization has always been interesting to me. It’s the idea that we want custom products as long as they are not too different from what everyone else has…or more expensive. In my web work I’m often trying to balance the demand for custom work with the need to keep costs under control.
A recent radio interview caught my ear because the guest has just completed a book about the decline of Starbucks…the epitome of mass customization. Starbucks is a great example because people are able to place unique coffee orders (customization) and receive their item immediately within a cost range no different from their peers (mass marketing). Hanging out in a Starbucks or sipping from a branded cup imbues hipness. It communicates that you have $4 a day to spend on coffee, insist on only the best, and know what you want.
But, the value of that image is declining because coffee and coffee houses meant something very different before Starbucks. People are remembering that for hundreds of years coffee houses have been places where people gather to discuss, debate, assemble and find community. The allure of mass customization is giving way to the simple yearning for simple human contact.
This is great news for the little guy! It’s comforting to see the rise of websites like www.etsy.com, which value genuine customization. We want to know where our food, clothes and baby toys come from. People want to have a relationship with the providers they interact with – and it’s never been easier for individuals, small businesses and non profits to offer that than with the advent of social media.
Personally, I can’t offer my clients a fast turnaround on a huge, blaring website with tons of bells and whistles and I’ve never wanted too. While at times I’ve had more business than I can manage I have not outsourced simply because I love what I do. I make small, hand crafted sites with (hopefully) a lot of character. I work very collaboratively with many of my clients and we can hear each other’s smiles when we speak on the phone. Maybe it’s taken a Starbucks on every corner to realize that what we really want is genuine service and a sense of connection.
About the author
As the owner of Pixel Lava Interactive I've helped hundreds of small businesses and nonprofits with websites, graphic design and more. I hope you'll find this blog full of useful information.
~ Ame Stanko