To Know Something is Different than to Actually Do It.

In which I relate a short story concerning the rather obvious idea that knowing something is different than doing something.

I gave a talk recently to web designers who were tasked with making their content net-worthy. My talk focused on a small subset of the concepts we talk about at User Interface Engineering: really straightforward but important concepts like talking to users on a regular basis and testing your own web site regularly. My talk lasted 20 minutes, and I barely started before I was done.

During the course of the talk, I stated several things that would be rather obvious to professional web designers. The one that I remember clearly was that I suggested that the audience �write title tags containing your user�s own words�.

Instantly feeling like I was preaching to the choir, I remembered something that I had written down a while back and had put in the grey matter for just a situation like this. I quickly said, �I know many of you might be chuckling to yourself right now and thinking that I�m stating the obvious. I admit that I am. But to know something is different than to actually do it. So I�m saying it again.�

I wouldn�t have thought twice about it except for the fact that two people mentioned it afterward during Q&A time. They said that there really is a difference. They said that they do know how important it is to write good title tags, but they rarely follow through and review what their team has done. They had no idea what sort of shape their title tags were in.

Needless to say, I found their comments fascinating. What were they focusing on, I wondered? Then it occurred to me how often I had done the same thing, finding everything under the sun to focus on except the one or two things I should have actually been doing.

Well, I forgot where I heard it, but knowing something is very different than actually planning for it, focusing on it, and doing it in our daily lives.

What do you know?

What do you do?

Published: July 20th, 2004