Selling the process with the product

As an industry, how well do we sell the process of programming and design to the public at-large?

Some industries sell process as much as they do product. The process, labor, and care have become just as important as the product itself.

There’s a locally famous barbecue stop in Chicago called Smoque, which, on taste alone, whets my appetite. But, their description of how they make their product is part of the allure.

We smoke our Boston butts for 12 hours over applewood and pull them by hand to deliver the perfect texture and the ideal mix of the crusty, smoky pieces from the outside of the butt and the tender juicy pieces from the inside. Topped with our bold peppery sauce and tangy coleslaw, this stuff is hard to beat.

After reading that bit of literary drool, I don’t really need to see a picture of pulled pork. Baby just wants some. On process alone, on describing what they do to make the thing I’m buying, the product already sounds tastier than it might really be. And, I’m sold.

Like I said, I don’t need to see a picture after reading that description…though, damn that looks tasty.

Can we get the same whetting of the appetite in the web industry by simply describing our process? I might look at a website and appreciate well-formed XHTML, complete separation of presentation and structure, neat indentation, minified JavaScript classes, and RESTful looking URLs. But, does the average web user care?

Our websites are cared for using the highest web standards in the industry. We only produce websites that validate against the HTML 4.01 Strict DOCTYPE. We spend hours separating any presentational elements from structure. Top it off with unobtrusive JavaScript and tasteful use of Flash, and this site’s hard to beat.

Should people be drooling over something like this? Could it make a site ‘taste’ better knowing the care that went into the work?

Admittedly, the food industry is a bit of a clichéd example of an industry that can sell off its process. Food (and lest we forget, wine and beer) can be sold on explaining process alone. But, it’s surprising other industries that could, don’t.

We don’t often hear about the craft of furniture making. I’ve never bought a piece of furniture for any other reason than how it looked, how it felt, and how much it cost. If a company could really sell its process, perhaps it could make a difference when I’m looking at three couches I like. The winner might not always be the least expensive anymore. Nor do we hear car companies sell the craft of car design. Doctors, painters, maid services…web development shops. Could we be selling our craft better?

I think it’s possible because the craft matters to me. And, if I, a one-time web development novice, could come to care, I think others might be able to as well. I have a bias for over This stuff matters to me, and we could make it matter to everyone else as well.