A lesson on customizing from Arianna
Arianna Huffington said if she could start again, the Huffington Post would not have a home page. Her ideal website contours to the user — his interests, her previously read articles and where he is coming to the HuffPo from. Someone from Pinterest would see the article with an image-centric theme. Someone from LinkedIn would see who in her connections has interacted with the article and who she can connect with. A visitor's version from Facebook would have a heavier emphasis on community. Same article, just different for different people.
But it doesn't take a website guru to master the art of customizable user experiences.
The grocery store I go to teaches the sackers to observe customer purchases and bag accordingly.
The mom with two small kids and a buggy filled with a week of groceries needs more in each sack with more than the usual amount of sacks double-bagged. She's going to want to make as few trips as possible from the car to the house, where she had to leave the kids unattended. God knows what they might tear up.
I, on the other hand, make several small trips to the store each week. Sometimes it's only for five items, a majority of which are organic and in earth-friendly containers. Simply by glancing at my few purchases, the sacker knows to use the least amount of bags possible. The last time he even handed my free-range eggs over with no bag. I was delighted by his attentiveness.
Everyone is not the same, so they shouldn't be treated as such. The masses are made of individuals. Individuals that pay you money, time or permission to engage them. Companies and services and freelancers who learn how to provide a unique and tailored experience win in the long-run (by a long shot).