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In this issue
Reduce web pages to improve service
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 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.
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:
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 partnership.
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.
The power of the web is the hyperlink. But, too often web pages describe information or capabilities without actually helping visitors find or do what is being described. When this happens in testing, that page content becomes a teaser that frustrates the visitor from taking action.
Many clients don’t even realize they are engaging in this behaviour. It may seem natural to describe some content and provide links somewhere else. But best practices are different for writing documents versus writing an effective landing page.
On the web, people are impatient. They want immediate access. They don’t want to waste time. They get frustrated when they can see the content they want but it is not linked. It’s basically like saying “Hey, we’ve got great content but we’re not going to tell you where it is”.
Here are a few examples gleaned from some of the expert reviews, usability tests, or comparative usability evaluations that we’ve conducted. These are typical of the type of teaser content we often discover. And, they are more common than you may think.
Teaser 1: List available programs but don’t help people find them
Teaser 2: Tell people about available tools but make visitors hunt for them
Teaser 3: Specify a form but don’t provide a way to access it
Teaser 4: Inform visitors of updated policies but don’t link to them
Teaser 5: Tell people a document is available online but don’t say where
Teaser 6: Provide an unlinked URL so visitors have to re-type or cut-and-paste
Teaser 7: List product offerings but don’t link to the details
We need to treat our customers better. We need to stop teasing them, and offer a helping hand. We need to understand the task they came to do, and help them do it. We need to stop writing descriptive text about content and capabilities, and instead help people immediately access and do.
Help your customers DO, not hunt! You’ll be glad you did.
Quote of the month
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”.
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