Great websites help you complete simple, common tasks in a fast, efficient manner. They are boring to design and manage.
Is your website for your web team? Is it for your marketing manager? Is it for your communications manager? Or perhaps your branding manager? Or maybe some senior manager or politician?
Should it really be for those people? Will focusing on their needs genuinely help you achieve your objectives in the long term? Is pleasing the boss or making sure the web team has fun the way to deliver real value?
Some of us are trapped. We have to please the boss because the boss has a huge ego and will never listen to reason, logic or evidence. Some of us are part of web teams that essentially believe the purpose of the website is to help them:
- achieve their personal or departmental objectives
- express themselves and develop new skills
- have fun and do cool things
Many of the things we need to do to create a great website are very, very boring. Like ongoing review. I hate having to review. I hate having to go back over pages on my website and see if they are still accurate and relevant. And I don't do it nearly as much as I should. But all the evidence I have seen over the years is that customers will ruthlessly dismiss a website on which they come across out-of-date content. (Just like I do when I'm a customer on someone else's website.)
On intranets, nobody wants to manage the processes of searching for people or content. Making sure on a day-to-day basis that the quality of search is up to a high standard is really boring work. But start talking about personalization and portals and everyone is jumping around wanting to get involved.
It's natural and perfectly understandable that we all want to do interesting work and avoid boring work. I want to do interesting work as much as anyone. However, doing interesting and challenging work is often what makes problems for websites, making them technically complicated, graphically overwrought and content heavy.
I came across a website recently that was horrendous to navigate. It had frames everywhere and all sorts of other clever navigational devices that left you totally confused. The organization had lots of really talented, young programmers who were very passionate about the Web. Their passion and desire to express themselves had led to a nightmare website.
It's the same with a lot of content people. Giving a website to a communicator is like giving a pub to an alcoholic. A huge number of graphic designers are still wedded to the print design approaches. They focus much more on making the website look beautiful than work beautifully.
What's fun, unfortunately, is often frivolous and counter-productive when it comes to web management. It's hard to do the boring stuff like removing old content and making sure that every page has a unique title tag. Day-to-day web management is about rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty with the nitty gritty stuff. But remember: You get paid to be bored.