Time to stop drinking your bathwater!

woman with half her face submerged in a bath with rose petals

Wait … what?

Who drinks their bathwater?

What has this got to do with websites and planning?

This topic is as much about marketing as it is about website planning, but before you switch off, all website planning is about marketing. You realise that, right?

Over many years I have used this expression, creating much shock, to highlight how easily we become accustomed to our own BS* inside our organisations.

The best way to look at your organisation’s marketing is to get an outside perspective. No matter how good you are, it is almost impossible not to become part of the inside culture.

It’s not impossible, because the very top 1% of marketing gurus are capable of doing this. Most of them, though are guns for hire, so technically they aren’t inside any more and are looking outside-in.

When you first join a business, you have fresh eyes, and you can easily see opportunities for change. You see it as an outsider sees it, because you are.

“If I were them I’d drop this, or change that tone of voice etc.”

Give it six months, maybe twelve, and you’ll be dropping acronyms, industry shorthands, internal business terms and attitude like everyone else.

Before long, it seems normal, your internal-speak detector has changed its filters, and you find it harder to see what outsiders do. You also have to report to your boss and their boss. They have been inside this bubble forever, and they’ve been drinking the bathwater for so long they don’t even notice.

Wait. What? You did it again. 

So think about the analogy. You get into this clean hot bath. It is likely bubbling with lovely fragrances, and you ease your achy body into it. The relief is almost immediate – the freshness of it.

After a while the bubbles have disappeared, the water is a bit murkier, but it’s ok it’s only me that’s in here. You top it up a bit with some fresh hot water (read some blogs, learn something new) and are feeling pretty good.

Before you started your bath if someone told you to get into a vessel filled with tepid dirty water to get yourself clean, you would have laughed them off as crazy.

And yet, here you are, chin-deep in dirty tepid water.

Wait I hear you say (in self-justification mode), “It’s my dirt, so it’s ok.

black and white puppy all dirty after playing in the mud

The facts remain, the water is dirty, and you are immersed in it, almost like human soup.

Extrapolate this out, you have been in here for an hour, or so, you forgot to bring refreshments, you’re a bit thirsty. How long until you take a sip?

Before you feel too ill, let’s head back to your marketing. How long until you are drinking your company’s bathwater. Are you just sitting in it or making your coffee with it?

To be your most effective at marketing you need always to be looking outside-in. This is the essence of user-centered everything:

  • design,
  • content,
  • UX,
  • everything.

How do you do this?

  1. Ask your customers
  2. Ask people who aren’t you’re customers
  3. aka. Research
  4. Look at the data. What’s working and what isn’t.
  5. Then go crazy digging into why (4) is and isn’t working. Don’t just mimic it without a depth of understanding.


How does this relate to website planning?

When you dig deeper into our method, almost all of it is focused on the user and helping them get what they need.

We set your business goals first, so you don’t lose sight of what it is you are trying to achieve, but the rest of it then is all about building something for the users.

Make it easy for the right users and your goals will be much easier to achieve.

You can’t be drinking your bathwater when planning your sites or improving them. Doing it because that’s how you like it, or because you ‘think’ it’s best without knowing who it is you are serving, and their needs is exactly like that.

Stop drinking your bathwater. It’s wrong. And your users will thank you for it. 

*BS = Bullshit, you knew that. 

Posted in News.

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