Why your web site needs to be loved by your management, not just you

I want to tell you the story of two web projects.  They could be twins:

  • They’re both redevelopments – web sites that are being refreshed because they’re tired and need a lift.
  • They’re both projects in which staff were asked for their input to help improve the site.
  • They’re both projects that I worked on.

That is where the similarity ends.  Project #1 had a management team that embraced change – they took their own staff’s advice about how they could improve the web site and so they did.  Staff buy-in to that web site is amazing – they really want to be on board and keep the redevelopment going.  The site itself has transformed from a traditional, boring, inwardly-focussed site to one which is already attracting interest from prospective customers.

Project #2 had a management team that firmly believed ‘we don’t need anything on our web site that I don’t personally use’.  In fact, their CEO told me that ‘all these ideas are just marketing bunk’ and rejected all of them out of hand.  He claimed ‘I don’t use those things so we don’t need them.  *sigh* Those ideas, suggested by his staff, included greatly improved search, user-focussed content and the ability for their customers to build their own product lists.  Those changes – suggested in a very enthusiastic workshop that we facilitated – have now been thrown on the scrapheap.

The real loser here is staff morale.  Those same staff who stepped out of that full-day session pumped up about how their web site was going to make their life easier – are now quite disillusioned.

Your web site doesn’t belong to you, the marketing team or the IT geeks.  It belongs to the organisation – from management down.  And their acceptance goes a long way towards your site being customer-focussed and useful.

Do you recognise your organisation in either of those projects?  Are you project #1 or project #2?

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2 thoughts on “Why your web site needs to be loved by your management, not just you

  1. Great article David! I would add that a website also belongs to the customers who use it, further reinforcing the approach of project team #1.

  2. I so agree with you David. It’s also a reflection of the management culture with the company you worked with. Some are horizontal style of communication, the other is just top-down vertical style. Project#1 promotes a tighter bond and Project#2 sounds like a company that is more bureaucratic.

    As a believer of the psychology of design, client of #Project 2 also reminds me of the great Philippe Starck and what he said. He said ‘design has to be useful to people.’ Hence some company are always doing something which they think are useful to their business (which can differ from company to company). Ultimately, as provider of unique services like you and me, sometimes creativity doesn’t sell to certain people and we learn to accept them at their level. Don’t you reckon?

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