Pensioners David and Jean Davidson have been living in a Travelodge in the UK for the past 22 years. They went to a Travelodge back in 1985 and liked it so much, they have never left. Amazing.
However, consider this – it only costs them £90 a week and that includes all heating, water, cleaning and housekeeping. This is considerably cheaper than if they used their own home. They are able to live the life they want because they have plenty of time and the extra cash they need for trips out and so on. Few people in their 70s can enjoy the same, largely because the bulk of their money is being spent on accommodation.
Mr and Mrs Davidson have turned on its head the notion of where you live. Why spend tons of cash running your own property? Why not spend your money on enjoying the time that you have here? It’s a different approach.
True, it won’t work for all of us; but for many people it may be better both financially and emotionally to live in a hotel. You could say that the Davidson’s are “early adopters” of a new way of life for the elderly.
So what has all this to do with the Internet? Well, two things really. Firstly, few people who have web sites appear to want to try anything different or new. They stick with the old ways of doing things, often because they haven’t thought through the advantages of the new ways. In other words, we focus on a particular reason for doing things and use this to justify our actions, when we ought to be putting our attention on other factors.
In the world of the Internet, web site owners focus on things like what has worked for other people, traditions and so on, rather than looking at what might be best for their particular situation. Just because other web sites have an FAQ page, for instance, it doesn’t mean you need one; it might be perfectly OK to avoid such a page in your particular circumstances. However, if you think you need an FAQ page, you end up taking time trying to dream up questions and answers, taking your mind off what you should be focusing on – your business.
Another element of living in a hotel is that you would have nothing to pass on to your relatives when you die. Many elderly people wouldn’t dream of living in a Travelodge because they might think they have nothing to “call their own”. Yet, little of what is passed on is ever kept by offspring and families, so why worry about it?
Web site owners treat their web sites as a “possession” in the same way we treat property. Indeed there are countless intellectual property lawyers all ready to protect and defend your web site. But when you are dead and buried your web site will still be alive. It will still be available for other people to read and use. In other words, your web site doesn’t belong to you at all – it belongs to your readers.
So what does this help us achieve online? By looking for novel things and the right ways of doing things for our readers – who “own” our web sites – we are much more likely to succeed. Take a tip from the Davidson’s – don’t worry about your web site as a “possession” and try something new. Those two steps will bring you even closer to your readers.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+