Reduce web pages to improve service

Posted on May 24, 2011 by ghopkins

Are your customers or employees drowning in website content? Are they having trouble doing what they came to the website to do? Unbridled and poorly managed content proliferation is one of the biggest risks of our digital age.

Many of your customers are already drowning in data. Your web content could be adding to this problem if it is not laser-focused on your visitors’ top tasks. Too much focus on “tiny tasks” will inundate your customers, hinder them from completing critical tasks, lower your service level, and decrease sales.

According to Google there were 5 exabytes of internet data in 2002. By 2009 that had exploded to 281 exabytes, a growth of 5600%. For those of us who have just grasped the concept of a terabyte, 1 exabyte is enough data to fill 1 million terabyte drives. And this is just the content that Google indexes.

When we include all forms of digital data the numbers are staggering. A recent IDC research article on the Digital Universe [1] estimates that the amount of data created globally in 2010 surpassed 1 zettabyte or 1,000 exabytes.

As companies wrestle with new ways of storing, managing and analyzing this volume of data we need to understand the impact on the people who are being inundated by this data tsunami.

On many websites, the “tiny task” content overwhelms the “top task” content so much that people have difficulty doing what they came to the website to do. The signal is lost in the noise. There are too many pages, too many choices on landing pages, and too much information on detail pages. People scan quickly. When they can’t see what they want or need, they leave. Or, they head down the wrong path and get lost.

Many websites become like this Wenger product, a Swiss Army Knife on steroids.

[2]

Imagine trying to carry this around, quickly finding the tool you want to use, using the tool with all the other tools in your way, etc. And, for the typical user, how often do you really need a “chain rivet setter” or “Shortix laboratory key”. The “tiny tasks” are hindering the frequent and critical tasks. (NOTE: This is an actual knife you can buy).

We need to change our strategy for dealing with web content. Although it is increasingly easy to produce and propagate content, we need to find ways to tame it. Every link, word, or graphic that is added makes the top tasks more difficult to find and do. The more content competing for our limited attention, the more the critical content becomes hidden and ineffectual.

When we start examining many of our clients’ websites we quickly discover a lot of content that is out-of-date, irrelevant, or overly verbose. On some larger websites, up to 30% of the content may have never been accessed in the last year. This can cause major delays to visitors when these pages show up in navigational links or search results. This extraneous content constitutes an amazing amount of camouflage that visitors have to overcome and a lot of wasted time and effort managing content that never gets used.

The challenge is:

  • to restrict content to only that which is relevant to the current task and context
  • to ensure the top tasks are not hidden by the tiny tasks, and
  • to ensure a smooth workflow that is not distracted by a bunch of competing content and calls to action.

Many of our clients are significantly improving the effectiveness and maintenance of their web content by drastically reducing the amount of it on their websites – really focusing in on managing their customer’s ability to quickly and easily complete their top tasks. A Top Task Management approach helps them avoid the tsunami of tiny tasks.

Two great examples of this approach come from our Customer Carewords [3] partnership.

  1. The City of Liverpool website [4] was reduced in size from 4000 down to 700 pages and the City has received a very positive response from its citizens. Although several staff members have complained that their content is no longer available, complaints from City visitors are virtually non-existent.
  2. Our partners at Netlife Research [5] in Norway recently completed some work with Telenor [6], a leading provider of mobile communications. Taking an aggressive task-based approach, Telenor was able to reduce the mobile broadband section of their website from 2000 to 400 pages. Stripping out this huge number of pages reduced the number of emails to customer service by 40% and increased sales by 80%.
    Removing 4 out of every 5 pages increased one area of sales by 80%

The Customer Carewords process has been developed to quickly identify the top tasks on your website and to manage your website’s evolution by measuring website success based on your customers’ ability to quickly and easily complete their top tasks.

Learn more about Top Task Management [7]. Email us [8] or call us at 613 271-3001 if you would like a free consultation about our Top Task Management strategic services.

URLs in this post:

[1] IDC research article on the Digital Universe: http://www.emc.com/collateral/demos/microsites/idc-digital-universe/iview.htm

[2] Image: http://neoinsight.com/components/com_wordpress/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Knife1.jpg

[3] Customer Carewords: http://www.customercarewords.com/

[4] City of Liverpool website: http://liverpool.gov.uk/

[5] Netlife Research: http://netliferesearch.com/english/

[6] Telenor: http://netliferesearch.com/prosjekter/telenor/

[7] Learn more about Top Task Management: #

[8] Email us: mailto:info@neoinsight.com?subject=Follow-up%20about%20top%20task%20management%20strategic%20services%20offer

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