In part four of this series (see part 1, part 2 and part 3) I look at the process of eliminating duplicate items from the list of top website tasks.

How many unique tasks are there in the following list?

  • Book an appointment online
  • Appointment reminders
  • Let me book an appointment
  • Make an appointment
  • Request an appointment

Yes, two. One task is about booking an appointment and another is about getting reminders for the appointment you have booked. As you develop your task list you will come across a lot of duplicate statements. It's essential that you merge these duplicates into single task statements.

The single biggest reason by far for task failure on websites is confusing menus and links. And the number one contributor to this confusion is duplicative wording. I recently signed up to a spam filtering service called SpamHero.

On its homepage it said it would be "easy to use." That is an immediate red flag. If something is actually easy to use it should never have to say it is. Google is easy to use. Has Google ever said it's easy to use? You express ease of use on the Web through the functionality of the page. Let people do and the ease of use will become apparent. If you have to talk about ease of use then clearly your environment is difficult to use.

I got an email from SpamHero saying that I had to update my DNS records. There was little or no instructions on how to do this. I logged into my account but could not understand what to do.

So, I went to the SpamHero website and here are the links I found:

  • Pricing
  • Learn More
  • FAQ
  • Support
  • Contact
  • Affiliates
  • Blog

Great navigation ensures that each navigation option is clear, distinct, separate and unique. It tells you in totally unambiguous terms: 'Yes, I can help you', or, 'No, I can't help you'. I want to update my DNS record. Well, it's definitely not Pricing or Affiliates I should click on. And I don't want Contact, at least not yet.

What about Learn More, FAQ, Support, Blog? These are really bad links, the kind of links that pollute so many websites. I have a task when I come to your website and I look at your navigation in the context of my task. So, yes, I want to Learn More about how to update my DNS records.

Is my question a frequently asked question (FAQ)? How on earth would I know? It's the first time I've asked it. (The FAQ is a truly useless navigational device.) And, yes, I want Support. And what about Blog? Do I want to read a blog? Hell no! I want to change my DNS record!

Might there be a brilliant blog entry about how to update your DNS record? Maybe? So, I click on Blog just to see what might be there and here's the first two entries:

  • The best spam filter for MS Exchange?
  • SpamHero Turns One Today!

Well, happy birthday, SpamHero! And why wasn't I invited to the party?

So, I ended up ringing my hosting company and it took the technical person there a long time to figure out what to do. It was not easy. Oh, those confusing menus and links. They get you every time.

Read the previous 3 articles in this series: