The Web has only just begun to make its mark. As we approach 2008, we are only in the middle of the beginning of a revolution that is transforming humanity. I often meet web professionals who are frustrated with their websites. This is quite understandable. Change can seem quite slow at times. I have even seen websites go backwards for a while.
However, the problem we have as web professionals is that we live every day in the center of the Web. We see the challenges all around us. We see the future clearly and want to get there as quickly as possible.
Sometimes we see the future too clearly. Sometimes we are too impatient. To move forward, sometimes we need to look backward, and upward.
We need to look backward to see all that we have done, because, let me tell you, an awful lot has been achieved in a very short period of time. Look back even 5 years. What was your website like then? What was management thinking about your website back then? You have made an awful lot of solid progress.
The Web is only about 10 years old. We are in the middle of the beginning. Something as big as the Web cannot be quickly understood by societies and organizations. In fact, I think societies are ahead of organizations because the Web delivers more benefits to societies than it does to organizations.
Organizations, particularly larger ones, take time to adapt to major new developments. This is quite normal. In fact, it could take a total of 30 years for most organizations to truly adapt. 30 years in the history of humankind is not a long time.
We need to look upward because the senior managers in our organizations are often the ones who find it hardest to adapt. They are far from the web natives. They didn't succeed by building great intranets or public websites. In most cases, they don't even use the intranet or public websites that much.
You need to subtly but consistently educate them as to what a proper website should do
. You need to be constantly proving to them that your websites are delivering productivity improvements, efficiencies, and generating true value for the organization. Otherwise, you risk them having golf course conversations where they come up with some unrealistic understanding of what the Web is about.
If you are not already educating your senior managers and other important stakeholders, then you should make that a primary objective for 2008. But more importantly, you should stand back and take a bow. You have been part of a grand adventure; a pivotal shift in how we work, communicate and live.
The website you are involved with is giving your customers a faster and simpler way to do the things they need to do. That's good for your customers. It is also good for your organization (whether it knows it yet or not), and it is certainly good for your long-term career. The future is customer-centric.
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.