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Sad when the The New York Times can learn a thing of two from Glenn Beck.
Good idea, alienate half your potential customer base.
You have connected your politics to your company. Now it’s not just whether I support your company with my dollars, but whether I want to support your politics with my dollars. I don’t.
When I consider your services in the future, I will consider your politics as well. I’m now highly unlikely to choose your product/politics.
What are you learning from this?
Jim, I believe that the post meant to indicate that even a rabid dog can put forward a straightforward and understandable subscription model. NYT’s new subscription model is confusing (i.e. it’s cheaper to get home paper delivery with side benefit of reading rights on my iPad, vs. paying for the iPad subscription.) The poster should have explained what they thought the lesson was to be learned.
Why do people like Jim have to take politics so seriously? Glenn Beck is borderline crazy whether you believe his conspiracy theories or not. To suggest the NYT could learn a thing or two from him is benign. Why such a visceral response, Jim?
If I was a Phillies fan and learned DHH loved the Mets, would it be rational for me to then second guess 37signals’ products?
Lighten up and remember, we’re all Americans even if our political views differ.
Mike: Actually, many of the readers are not even American so who cares about politics?
I don’t think there’s anything sad, or even unusual, about this. As you yourselves would note, the smaller scale of Glenn Beck’s operation means that he can be much more agile, and creative, about his services.
The point I’m making is that his people are better at marketing than the New York Times. I find this sad. Here is how his page is better than the New York Times page:
1. Beck’s pricing model is easier to understand. But that isn’t even the main point. Read on.
2. The New York Times page is a “better layout” — prettier on the surface. This assumes it is easier to read, more pleasing to look at. That’s BS. Compare the order of information:
NYTimes: Prices first, what you get second.
Beck: What you get first, prices second.
The NYTimes page is set up almost like an explanation of a shortcoming. It is wimpy. Here’s our prices, and here’s a bunch of FAQs about what’s included. The Beck page is just more straightforward. Here’s what you get, here’s how much it costs.
3. Auto renewal. I never thought I’d see the best explanation of what “auto renewal” or “subscription services” are on Glenn Beck’s site. Damn that is genius. I want to put that on our sites.
4. Using the word “Insider”. Feels exclusive. Feels like you’re getting something for your money that other people can’t get for free. That’s why someone might want to pay for this.
To answer a few questions:
1) Why do I take it seriously? Because politicians can confiscate my money, whereas I can choose to go to a Mets game. (Being a rabid Yankees fan, you can guess whether I will go.) Choice is the issue here. Do we see a web page somewhere clearly indicating what I’m getting for my US tax dollars, offering me an “auto-renewal”, and making me feel like a US Insider? No. The money, increasing amounts of it, are taken at the point of a gun. It’s deadly serious, far more serious than a baseball game or a web page. It’s my children’s future, and I take it seriously.
2) Why a visceral response? To make the same point as the post. It’s sad to see 37signals be so tone deaf as to think that their own politics matters, but those of their potential customers doesn’t. Again, it’s about choice, and I wanted to remind them that customers control that choice and direct their future. If they want to bring their politics into it, they are welcome to make that choice, as long as they understand that it has more ramifications that the amazing (and appreciated) amount of fretting they do over the simple placement of a combobox on a web page. The post is about drawing in customers to complete a purchase, and yet the post immediately drives away half the customers. All the finesse of HTML in the world won’t overcome attaching life and death issues like politics and religion to your product.
I will not support the products of companies who support politicians who will increasingly confiscate my contributions to my children’s college fund. No whiz-bang HTML will change that. Period. It means that much to me.
I appreciate JD’s clarification of the post. It’s clear that the post was ham-handed, and not intended to reflect a political viewpoint. I thank 37signals for the clarification.
I would ask them to remember your own rule about the small percentage of customers who will actually speak up about an issue, vs. those who will simply walk away. I spoke up, seriously and viscerally.
Who has walked away? Will you ever know?
Why Glen Beck? Why not “It’s sad when The New York Times can learn a thing or two from any other subscription-based service ever”?
Also, EXTREME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HALF-PIPES AND RIPPED JEANS!!!!!!!!!!
If I was going to draw a conclusion, it would be that the NYT must (think they) have dumber readers. If one of your FAQs is “What is a NYTimes subscription?” and you answer with an explanation of what the word “subscription” means, you’re waging an uphill battle.
The only thing that is usably informative, the block at the bottom of the page, merely explains the generic features of a newspaper website, like “Videos” and “over 50 blogs.” Then again, they’re using the word “multimedia.”
Plus, “every four weeks?” That’s a skeevy renewal cycle.
Jim Thomas should maybe chill out a little bit—maybe be a little less sensitive about perceived swipes against his charlatan demagogues.
Jim: This post wasn’t political in nature at all. It was about design, writing, pricing plans, and selling a product. Much has been made around the confusion and complexity of the NYT’s new pricing plans.
Further, how can you, as a reasonable person, equate an employees “politics” (which may, in fact, be the same as yours… there’s no way to know from this post), with a company’s “politics”. Companies are made of up people of all colors, creeds, politics, beliefs, religions, etc.
Should companies ask employees who they voted for before hiring them? I don’t think a liberal, like yourself, would support such discrimination.
@Anonymous Coward: This is the 37signals company blog. It represents the views of the company. The banner reads, in part, “This is Signal vs. Noise, a weblog by 37signals…”
Also – perhaps we cross-posted – I mentioned that JD said that this was not a political post. I agreed that the company’s original intent was not made clear, and I thanked them for the further information.
I stand by my statements regarding the risks of mixing politics and products.
You trust people like Glenn Beck with your children’s future?
Jim, I urge you to think twice before regurgitating Glenn Beck’s talking points. He’s an entertainer and shouldn’t be taken that seriously.
Why do you consider it sad? I think that the NYT could learn a lot of things from beck that would improve their product.
The really sad thing is that the NYT would refuse to even consider that it might be more effective simply because it has Glenn Beck’s name on it.
It’s not sad so much as it is typical of any large organization like the NYT. Likely that one or two people designed the Beck subscription page, whereas it took a committee weeks to come up with the NYT page.
What the hell are you doing on the Glenn Beck site?
May (insert familiar deity) (insert painful verb) me if If I ever represent that I’m so important that anyone should give pause to reflect on ramblings such as these. Go do somerthing useful.
Lighten up. The post wasn’t about politics or politicians. I was actually more surprised to see yours as the first comment and complaining about the politicization of the blog.
This has nothing to do with Beck. You have seriously read more into this post than what is there. Beck isn’t keeping you from a ball game. Your posts talk way more politics than anything else here. Please walk away from the computer and check out some spring training.
It should be noted the vast # of people here confused what this post was suppose to indicate. (Whenever anyone has to then explain a post, like JD did, that’s never good)
So please-oh-please step back up your writing skills.
It’s been noticeably bad lately.
Jessica: all except two commenters (you and thread-shitting Jim) figured out “what this post was supposed to indicate” without any apparent trouble.
It was crystal clear to me, because it’s within the normal frame of what SVN posts about. How many posts this year have been of a political nature? I don’t remember any. Now how many have been about a suck-ass design decision, or a great design decision? (However- I wouldn’t put it past you sneaky bastards to have posted this intentionally without a thorough explanation, just to foster engagement. That’s just a whole other level of smart…)
Anyway, thanks for posting Jamie, as someone who is setting up a subscription-based site soon, this is really helpful.
Thread-shitting,” “Jimmy,” “Go do something useful,” “What the hell are you doing,” “shouldn’t be taken that seriously,” “charlatan demagogues,” “borderline crazy,” “conspiracy theories.
What a shameful bunch of hate-filled bigots masquerading as an enlightened and compassionate people.
Jim – does it bother you that there is OFA “obama” logo on 37signals homepage?!? Didnt think so. Chill out.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the tone of the OP belies the authors bias, in a forum where it serves to divide and distract.
Despite Jamie’s detailed breakdown of his point, one still cannot get around the fact that it is “sad” to have to learn something from Glenn Beck. The tone of the posts suggests that nothing can be lower than to have to learn something from him. “Woah to the man who is so unclean.”
Given that Beck does have millions of listeners (which I am not), it does seem a careless slip to tip ones philosophical hand or to presume that, of course, we all are on the same political page here. “All correctly-thinking people share my presumptions about Glenn Beck.”
Mind you, I don’t care what his politics are or what he thinks of Glenn Beck. This, was a bush-league mistake.
I think the issue is obviously with the question about why it is sad.
There is an implication in the statement: “Sad when the The New York Times can learn a thing of two from Glenn Beck.” that says that the NYT is better than Glenn Beck in some way. It may well be, it might not.
In the post the writer did not elaborate on why this is sad or what is better or worse about of of the two entities mentioned. Later he says: “The point I’m making is that his people are better at marketing than the New York Times. I find this sad.” Which helps a bit but not a lot.
Whether anyone likes it or not, this blog post did have an underlying political tone or idea behind it. The NYT is well-known for its liberal slant on many things. Glenn Beck is also know to have a very strong conservative slant. Whether this is good or bad is a different issue. But to deny this would be to deny reality. So the well-known political leanings of these two comes into comparisons.
If the comparison had been made to, say, The Onion…a non-journalistic parody “newspaper” (or something similar) the focus would have been more clearly comparing a large, well-respected (by some) news organization’s skills against a much smaller, perhaps less professional, less read and less journalistically serious entity and finding sadness in the big guy’s inadequacies.
Alternatively, simply pointing out the positive qualities of Beck’s subscription page (as Jamie did in a follow-on comment) and noting how a much larger organization like the NYT could learn from this example would have kept things more neutral.
What’d I miss? Been way busy kicking kittens (just the yellow ones with stripes, the rest are real kittens).
I must confess that this post was also an experiment. I’ve been watching a lot of mentalist and illusionist tricks on YouTube lately. Look up Derren Brown.
The first step of the trick is to know that people have assumptions. It is interesting to see how some of you brought these assumptions out so clearly.
I didn’t spell out what I thought was better than the Beck site initially because I wanted to see how you picked up on the cues I provided.
I find it interesting that even though there are obvious positives to the Beck site, some of you couldn’t see past that given your assumptions. I think that’s kind of a cool thing about human nature. There’s something to learn there.
I feel pretty stupid even spelling this out. It’s like explaining the punchline of a joke.
err… no kittens were actually harmed during this exercise, not even the yellow ones w/ stripes.
Uh huh. :)
Two words in the title (“Sad when”) changes everything:
“Sad when the The New York Times can learn a thing of two from Glenn Beck.”—-Sounds like you are putting down Glenn Beck
Without “Sad when”
“The The New York Times can learn a thing of two from Glenn Beck.”—-Sounds like you support Glenn Beck
People will have their assumptions even though politics is not the issue here. Got to love prose.
What I learned: Find out what your audience’s assumptions are. They will ignore any details that aren’t related to their preconceived notions.
JD, that’s the most lame self-revisionist claptrap I’ve ever heard. “Blame the audience” is a pathetic excuse for poor writing and lack of clarity.
This post was beneath the standards of 37signals. Your ridiculous backwards reasoning only seals the deal.
I’m done with this blog.
checkmark plus – Jim T must not get out (let out?) much. Ouch, caught out and ahmm goin home:(
can I have this 5 minutes of my life back?
think before you post JD.
So if one believes Beck to be an opportunistic phony, it makes that person a “hateful bigot”?
Your penchant for hyperbolic is your problem, pal.
Also, my browser flags your site for phishing, FYI.
HubrisSonic, you think NYTimes’ page is clearer and better designed than Glenn Becks? I’m not sure you understand the post.
@JD: I don’t understand. What is sad about this?
Bye Jim! I mean, if you actually contributed positively to the comments and the blog, your leaving would be a loss. I’m sure you can find other places on the Internet where your talents are more appreciated, but until you learn perspective and context, we’ll do just fine without you.
It was a perfectly understandable post, JD. We usually think of GB & friends as being purveyors of the gaudy, flashy & loud, “communicating” their message simply by yelling it, whereas the NYT has a reputation for being clean and well-organized. Your example turns this on its head. Thanks for bringing this up.
While I don’t necessarily buy the revised purpose of this post (I think that response did more damage to the appearance of the author than the post itself), I don’t agree that a company has to, or should, shy away from its political leanings.
Any time a company makes a change or takes a controversial stance of any kind, some customers will become alienated. Some will even make strong statements like “I’ll never buy that company’s products again.” As Clayton Christensen pointed out, few will actually live up to their word, neither in the immediate future or the long term. However, many customers who agree and already use the company’s products will become even more galvanized and dedicated and evangelize the company’s products, which is by far the most effective marketing there is.
Jim – If you’re a Glenn Beck supporter I feel sorry for you. Sorry that you’ve succumbed to the one of the most fear-mongering people we have on this planet and you actually fall for it. Sad when people aren’t smart enough to recognize how silly he is.
“I will not support the products of companies who support politicians who will increasingly confiscate my contributions to my children’s college fund”
Funny Jim, those same politicians take your tax dollars to fund universities nation wide who educate the very same people who will some day educate your children from their college fund that you want to protect by not paying taxes.
Do you fucking get it?
The only reason that 37signals (and most people here like walt) support the dems is their pro homosexual policies. Hang in there guys, soon you will be able to marry your ‘partners’.
Strange, when I look at NYT’s page, I see description first (to the left), then price (to the right). Death by A/B testing ?
Plus, the paper subscribtion is not mentionned at all, there are just 3 prices : site + xphone app, site + tab app, everything. Probably not thaaaaat confusing to someone who reads NYT every day ;)
There is another way to read the two presentations IMHO.
NYTimes is liberal (thus open and no gicmmick), and the way it presents the page: a) Dear (existing) readers, we are going to start charging; 2) and this is the price(s) you will be paying; 3) with this money you will be getting this and that, from you iGadgets.
Gleen Beck: I find it more a late night TV Commerce approach that tries to lurk people into buying. Insider Extreme = gimmick.
IMHO NYTimes doesn’t need to learn anything from Beck for that it’s after a completely different readers/consumers/audiences.
Correction on “Glenn”. I swear it was not intentional.
I work for a multi-billion dollar oil and gas supplier who maintains a list of ‘politically-sensitive’ vendors and suppliers – i.e., companies with whom we won’t do business because their political stance runs counter to the company’s line of business.
37signals just made that list.
Congrats, JD. If anyone asks if this post cost 37signals money, you can proudly point to your ideological purity and say it was worth it.
@BW: In that case it was surprising that they ever were off it.
ESPN has the best model for pay subscriptions; plenty of free stuff. But, if you want to read the “Premium” content pay for INSIDER for like $25 a year. I do, and its almost a no brainer.
Who is Glenn Beck ? I thought this was a discussion about UI / design.
P.S. I am based in the UK and have honestly never heard of him.
wow. i didn’t read any political opinion in the original post and understood the points about marketing, etc. it’s sort of amazing that others are so entrenched in their assumptions to see past them. if it had been a marketing or billing example from some other, less politically charged site, i suspect the reaction would be different.
rather than argue on the internet or boycott a web services company, maybe those who misunderstood this post would be better off using their energy to effect real change in the world around them. if you already are, then keep on doing so, and disregard this blog post.
@Andrew He’s the antichrist/a moron. Or the messiah/ a genius.
There’s really no middle ground on this one, really. Next up on SvN blogs, “Creationism v. Evolution.” Followed by “Free Speach v. Fred Phelps” and lastly, “Barak Obama: Legal US Citizen”?
Interestingly enough, 37S credits Ron Paul in the acknowledgements of their ReWork book. So it appears that there’s at least 1 Fiscally Conservative Libertarian out there at the mother ship.
That adds a little credence to the “let’s not place a label on the whole company just because of one person’s political bend” idea.
Just a thought.
JD, you’re not sure I understand it? ... uhm… I dont think you understand it.
Of the 7 billion pages that do a better job at showing the NYT flummoxed themselves, you pick Glenn Beck’s subscription page…
Why not a analrape site, or scat lovers subscription page… or…
gosh there is a ton of offensive sites that do it better than the NYT. Feel free to post whatever you want.
Jim, you ignorant slut…
Sorry folks, I couldn’t resist the SNL reference fm the ‘70s, but Jim had it coming :) And remind me to quickly get away from any page that Jim has commented on or any product he is remotely associated with. This is the guy who walks into the office one day and mows everyone down with a sub-machine gun. You have to see it coming.
...now back to the regularly scheduled banter :)
Yeah, it is sad that Beck > NYT in anything, but it has nothing to do with politics. Newspapers are better than TV and radio, and yet the papers are dying. That’s sad.
Point would be identical if the parties were the WSJ or the Trib vs DailyKos, Cooper etc.
Also, I respect everyone’s right to take politics too seriously.
@Jim and BW – If you don’t support people who have different opinions than you, especially political views, you’re going to have to stop watching 95% of tv shows and movies (mostly Dems). You can’t watch most pro sports (mostly Dems), don’t use any Apple products (all Dems), etc, etc.
What you’re left with is hanging out in a South Carolina or Texas Wal-Mart, in the gun department, with the uneducated folk.
Have fun and say hello to ole Junior for me!
He is Filipino.
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