Web strategy, and why user-centred design excels

Duncan Stephen
Tuesday 19 November 2013

Why are colleges flunking web strategy 101?

I’ve talked to organizations that have spent 3-4 painful years developing a governance model that works. But it often ends up in a tangled Web of committees and steering groups focused more on keeping the peace than executing a crisp digital strategy.

The successful institutions have strong executive leadership, a clear vision and minimal stakeholders driving decision making. They are building a larger core Web team, and setting clear expectations for how decentralized Web authors contribute. It sounds like straightforward advice, but within the walls of academia it’s anything but.

When a tiny task is important to the organisation

Using the experience of the Norwegian Cancer Society website, this article is a great lesson in why user-centred design is so important. Focussing on what the user needs, rather than what the organisation wants, benefits both the user and the organisation.

In trying to get more donations, the traditional marketing approach would be to give much of the space on the homepage and other major pages over to asking for donations. The logic goes that the less attention people are paying the harder we have to work to attract it. And that is in fact how the old homepage for the Cancer Society looked. It had lots of banner ads asking for donations and support.

The approach the new Cancer Society website takes is very different. It now focuses on helping people get the information they need (treatment, symptoms, research) as quickly as possible. There are no banner ads for donations…

What is the result of NOT focusing on the tiny task of donations and instead focusing on top tasks?

  • 70% increase in one-time donations

  • 88% increase in monthly donors registered

  • 164% increase in members registered

Secrets of simplicity

This fantastic slideshow contains some great insight on how to make things simple and usable. It’s not quite as easy as “less is more”.

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