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Web Experience: The Web Professional's Challenge

Many web professionals are still really struggling with indifferent and egotistical management.

We got over 1,000 web professionals from 12 countries to tell us what was on their mind. It makes for somber reading. The global recession has hit hard and many are struggling with reduced funding. Add to that the fact that many felt they were short-staffed to begin with and a gloomy picture emerges.

Here’s a typical quote: “Lack of resources to furnish the website with up to date software and content; bureaucratic delays in adapting to mobile technology.” It’s ironic, but even as the Internet grows ever more important to everyday life, there’s a real struggle within many organizations to prove its value.

Poor management is cited again and again. Here’s a typical quote: “Senior management haven't got a clue how to make the necessary changes to deal with radically changed behavior from the customers. Old school, analog people trying to handle new problems with old tools. And they keep the web savvy out of the decision making loop.”

Content is out of control in many organizations. One respondent sums it up as “Too many people are busy putting up content without reflection, instead of asking themselves 'why'.” Another laments “Old content that no one wants to take responsibility for and the original content provider has moved on or retired.”

Often organizational ego is behind content bloat, as articulated by this web professional: “Making sure the public facing content is for the public. We have internal departments that insist they need a public facing website when all they offer are services to our other departments.”

How do we get out of this hole? The Internet is critical to the functioning of a modern economy and society. Most organizations absolutely need high performing websites. But what is a high performing website? How do we define it?

Something is wrong. Is it all the blame of senior managers who are labeled “dinosaurs”? Have we as web professionals somehow contributed to the ongoing problem? They don’t get it, we lament. What is it? How are we describing it?

Most senior managers don’t get content or technology or usability or design. Why should they? There is a common complaint within web professional circles. Content people talking to content people saying “Content is important. I love content. My job is important. Why don’t they get it?” A complaint is not usually how you get attention of those who have power and control funding.

We must change the language. Senior management gets the customer. They get customer satisfaction. They worry about losing customers. They worry about getting customers to use the Web instead of the phone. Yes, the politics and ego in senior management circles can be overwhelming. But that’s life. It’s not going to change. We have to live with it, work with it.

The single greatest way to get senior managers to “get it” is to present them with 2 minute videos of customers failing miserably at top tasks. Often, you have to show a whole range of these videos over time to lots and lots of stakeholders. But they work because they communicate to managers that, “Hey! We’re not talking about content or technology here. We’re talking about customers!”

Championing the customer is your path to advancing your career and improving your website.

About the Author

Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994. His latest book is titled The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online.

 
 
 
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