Who would throw away a perfectly good UFO house?
That’s exactly what happened in Taiwan more than 20 years ago, as you can see from these Flickr photos.
Wow. An entire resort filled with UFO-style houses.
Seeing this made me think of the websites that are abandoned each day, each quarter, by businesses that decide they need to redesign instead of enduring the less glamorous process of website optimization.
According to one blog, there are a several rumors as to why the “UFO house” resort in Sanjhih was abandoned. One story suggests that someone was killed there and the resort is haunted. Another is that the Taiwanese government outlawed bathing beaches in the area. But the most believable explanation is that the design was impractical; the resort is in a remote, windy area near the sea, and if the houses are indeed made of fiberglass as it appears, it would get incredibly hot in the summertime.
Form without function is art, not business.
In August of last year, Internet Retailer‘s Form and Function survey of “243 chain retailers, catalog companies, virtual merchants and consumer brand manufacturers,” and found that…
60.3% . . . have redesigned their e-commerce sites in the past year, including 20.1% in the past three months and 14.3% within six months. Of the retailers planning to overhaul the look of their web sites, 74.7% expect to do so within 12 months and 28.6% within 90 days.
[...] “The pace of web site design is brisk because more retailers know that having an attractive site that makes it easy to find merchandise and make a purchase is a competitive advantage,” says Joey Lechtner, director of e-marketing services for Fry Inc., an Ann Arbor, Mich., web site design and e-commerce development company. “Retailers ‘keep up with the Jones’ [sic] and if their competitor redesigns a site, they notice and take action.”
A costly redesign? Just to keep up with the neighbors? What if these earthlings — these so-called “Joneses” — take their design cues from outer space? Sure, there are times when a website redesign makes sense, but if you plan it with human visitors in mind in the first place, redesigning each year would seem crazy.
And let’s face it. Maybe you don’t need a redesign. Maybe you just need to recognize that you’ve built a cool-looking-yet-impractical UFO house that would be fine if you just painted it white and installed solar panels, reflective glass and an air conditioner.
That’s my website optimization metaphor and I’m sticking to it. For now.