A Leading Online Retailer creeps the hell out of me, and we have developed a sinister and abusive relationship over the past few months. All the computers at work can read my mind and know when I’m browsing their site. “HELLO DANE PETERSEN,” they say when I load the first page, “YOU MUST BE INTERESTED IN BOOKS ON PHP AND INTIMATE WOMEN’S APPAREL.” A gold treasure chest in the corner shakes as the beast within tries to claw its way out. “DANE’S CHEST” it boasts, as though my rock hard and cyber-tanned abs are made out of precious metals and are the only thing keeping a skittery, juvenile alien in its place.
At the bottom of the page, they feature “DANE’S BOTTOM-OF-THE-PAGE DEALS”, as though “BOTTOM FEEDING DEALS” and “SCUM SUCKING DEALS” were possibilities that never crossed the thin paper brains of the branding trolls. These deals mostly consist of useful things like bulk underwear, ten tons of baby powder and 12 oz. tubes of “Ointment”.
But really, this is what I expect from the world’s largest and most clumsy online retailer. This company has gotten so big that they don’t really deal in anything, anymore. The only thing that they’ve got goin’ for ’em is the half-baked image that they deal in everything. Slap on the drop down Flash applets with pictures of soft, meaty children, pop-under windows reminding you of “FREE SHIPPING ON ALL SHERPA PURCHASES” (as though they would ever sell something as useful as Sherpas), “super deals” on Yanni CDs, cross-branding hellholes, useless product lists generated by pasty vampire geeks, lame contests with rotating .gif nickles…
What results is the ugliest, messiest, least intuitive layout known to mankind. We all know how well this style of web design has worked for other companies. Really, I don’t mind. It’s not my problem. I can just sit up in my gilded office with my golden abdominal muscles, looking down at the ants scurrying about with their non-compliant, non-accessible, slow-loading, table-abusing, deprecated design and “tsk” my hours away.
I don’t mind, that is, until the filth starts bleeding into other parts of my life. On Lileks.com, their donor button now says, “HELLO DANE PETERSEN, IS THIS SITE WORTH A FEW BUCKS? YOU GRADUATED IN THE TOP THREE PERCENT OF YOUR CLASS THREE MONTHS AGO AND DON’T HAVE A SALARIED POSITION WITH BENEFITS. YOU CAN’T PAY YOUR BILLS (self-inflicted bills for kiteboarding and windsurfing and camping and mountain biking gear, but that’s beside the point) BUT DO YOU WANT TO PAY FOR THIS SITE? YOUR CALL.”
Seriously. I don’t mind requests for donations on sites I respect and admire, but let’s not make it personal, OK? If you’re gonna take a piss, piss in your own beer. Leave mine alone.