Woot, A Million Dollars, and Simplicity

July 23, 2008

The web has paved the way for some of the greatest innovations.  We now have new ways of doing things that are unlike anything we have ever seen before.  The mail became email, which led the way for chat rooms, instant messaging, online telephone services, and social networks.  These are all major things that have developed out of grand ideas and designs.

But not everything has to be so big or daunting.  Take a look at Woot.com.  What they have done is successfully create a website that gets a huge amount of traffic each and every day by doing something unique.  They offer one, and only one, product a day at a discount.  The product changes every night at midnight, and a rush of visitors come to check out the deal and see if it’s the one for them.

The traditionalists among us would say, why limit yourself to selling one product?  Why not offer a variety of deals and draw in more people, increasing the chance that each visitor will make a purchase?  Well, quite simply, that has been done to death.  Why compete with Amazon.com when you can create something that much more remarkable?  The same people don’t go to Amazon.com on a daily basis.  Woot has created something with a very loyal customer base that continues to spread the idea around.

Another example is “The Million Dollar Home Page“.  Here is a site that bought an interest-peaking url and sold ads.  That’s it.  The page is one million pixels, covered in ads, with each pixel costing one dollar – hence the million dollar home page.  It’s a simple idea with guaranteed revenue and easily spreadable story.  It gets attention.

You don’t have to solve world hunger every time you innovate.  Create something unique, no matter how simple, and run with it.  The web allows us to do this quickly and easily, at a fraction of the cost.  Create something that makes people say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”