An article by Gerry McGovern
Many websites are still publishing content that is not core to their business. The justification is that such content will indirectly deliver benefit. This is not a good idea. Focus on the content that is directly applicable to your organization's objectives. Any other content confuses. It wastes time and money.
Some time ago, I bought broadband. (Which is not that 'broad' as I was to discover.) Visiting the websites of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the search for a good offer was a very frustrating experience. I might as well have been visiting third-rate versions of CNN or BBC. I got news on sports, entertainment, politics. I got ads for supermarkets, mortgages and insurance.
Quickly getting the information I needed on broadband was made more difficult by the fact that I was bombarded with content I had absolutely no interest in. If I want news, I will go to CNN, BBC, RTE. I have never gone to an ISP for news. I never will.
Back during the days of dot com madness, ISPs got the idea that they were not really ISPs at all. Instead, they were lifestyle portals. They were going to give the consumer everything they needed on the Web.
AOL has made this idea work. Most others have failed. That's because it's very difficult and very expensive to do. In consumers minds, there is usually only one or two places for such all-embracing portals, and for many, Yahoo and AOL occupy these places.
If you were researching general health information, would you trust a pharmaceutical website to give it to you? I have asked this question all over the world. I have never found anyone who said they would. So, why do some pharmaceutical websites publish general health information? Isn't it just getting in the way of product information: the real reason why people visit a pharmaceutical website.
Most organizations do a relatively poor job of managing their core content. Adding non-core content eats up precious time and money that could be better spent.
The cost to readers is that such content distracts them.
Generally, when people come to your website they are on a mission. If the mission is to buy your product, you don't want to distract them in any way.
Strip away from your website all non-core content. If it's not directly furthering your objectives, it shouldn't be there. If it's not driving specific, quantifiable actions, it shouldn't be there. It is costing you time and money. It is costing your readers their attention.
"We still have only one product," Google Fellow Urs Holzle told Fast Company in April 2003. "That's search. People come to Google to search the Web, and the main purpose of the page is to make sure that you're not distracted from that search. We don't show people things that they aren't interested in, because in the long term, that will kill your business."
In fact, Google has an ever-increasing range of product offerings. However, it has worked very hard to keep its homepage incredibly simple. It has built a huge business by having an absolute clarity of purpose. Many other organizations homepages are a mess of political compromises.
Remember, the real art of publishing is deciding what not to publish.
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. He has also authored several authoritative books
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