Authentic Enthusiasm

There exist some cliches on usability – rules of thumb on design, fonts, color palette, etc.  Then you come across very successful web properties that ignore these entirely (Craigslist and Paypal come to mind).  How come?  What's the magic ingredient in these sometimes ugly services that leads to success.

This has been an issue on my mind for a while.  Today, reading Albert' Wenger's post, something crystallized:

Hospitality is the “humanizing” element.  Visitors have to feel
appreciated, they have to find their time respected and they have to
find pleasure in the transaction. Achieving that for USHG starts with hiring employees based on their HQ,
their “hospitality quotient,” which Danny defined as “how much pleasure
someone derives from providing pleasure to others.”

Danny is the restaurateur Danny Meyer and relays his experience in the hospitality industry.  Albert found it relevant to the web industry but it made him think about the hiring decisions in web companies.

However, I think it applies to the experience the web site provides, as well.  If a website makes the user feel like it's trying really hard to be useful, then the user will forgive (or ignore) many design or usability flaws.  Authenticity can shine through on the web where you don't have face to face interactions.

Maybe Authentic Enthusiasm is the Hospitality Quotient of the web.