Disintermediation is the Enemy of a Good Website
[IMG]http://www.toonpool.com/user/496/files/bully_pulpit_368765.jpg[/IMG] [B][/B][B]dis·in·ter·me·di·a·tion [/B][dis-[I]?[/I]in-t?r-[I]?[/I]m?-d?-[I]?[/I]?-sh?n][I]According to Wikipedia, [U]disintermediation[/U] is the removal of [URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intermediary"]intermediaries[/URL] in a [URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_chain"]supply chain[/URL]: "cutting out the middleman".[/I]
This morningI ascended the bully pulpit and gave our team a speech as to why ourOneStop pages are an order of magnitude more popular than other pageswe produce. (We produce pages for different sites/user communitiesincluding the public, partners, and sales people.)
As I've written about, prior, people like OneStop because the contentis complete, accurate, up to date, and is in a consistent format. Easyenough, right? Not really. The question is, what ingredients arenecessary, in the secret sauce, to produce this quality content?[B]
The page(s) need to be owned by the content expert, or minimally somewho is well versed in the content AND in the needs and expectations ofthe users. On OneStop we have the person's name, picture, and countryflag on the page. The quality of the page is a direct reflection of theauthor.
[B]No disintermediation! [/B]
Most of the sites our group works with are based on a structured updateprocess. The content creator needs to submit a request with the update.It then goes through a couple of people for approval on correctness andcompleteness, and then goes to a web person for posting. This processcan be time consuming, and often something is lost in translation. OnOneStop the owner does the actual posting. The corollary to this ruleis that it [B][I]Needs to be Easy[/I][/B].
[B]The owner needs to a user[/B]
The best pages are the ones that the owner uses every day. This is theonly was to get a [I]gut feel[/I] for whether the page works. Are the items inthe right order? Is it easy to find the highest priority items? Arethere bad links? Is response time fast? Is the page always available?Many of the best pages on OneStop are authored by SEs. As SEs talk tocustomers every day, and use OneStop to look up information to supportthese customers, they can do an optimal job of creating a page that isuseful for other SEs.
[B]Needs to pass the [I]what's in it for me[/I] test [/B]
[IMG]http://healthcare.nationaljournal.com/20090803_chart3.jpg[/IMG] It can be a decent amount of work to maintain a popular OneStop page.Having an author's name and picture featured prominently on the page [I]gives credit where credit is due[/I]. Note that in a disintermediated site the content contributor is often invisible.
[B]Working feedback loop[/B]
[IMG]http://www.eol.ucar.edu/nar/2006/images/nuggets/VOC_feedback_loop_jg.gif[/IMG] I'ma glutton for feedback. [Particularly positive feedback. [IMG]http://blogs.sun.com/images/smileys/smile.gif[/IMG] ] Bloggersare heavily reliant on comments and stats, often via google analytics.Internal content contributors often aren't so lucky. On OneStop we makea big effort to make as much data as possible easy available. I thinkof it as positive reinforcement. [B]
Ask the users[/B]
On OneStop it is necessary to login, so we know who views, updates, and comments on a page.
In my experience, users love when you reach out to them. It shows youcare and want to increase the quality and effectiveness of the page.There is always what I call a gem in the responses, a really good ideathat you can readily implement.
[URL="http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/exhibitionist/closing-closed.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/exhibitionist/2009/01/the_rose_a_peti.html&usg=__DFRV2cMemkCX1f_Zpz-huv2Qbh0=&h=457&w=540&sz=60&hl=en&start=1&sig2=UnqFvDM4V1ZqqzO1eVKhRw&tbnid=1NCAov5tRl3tQM:&tbnh=112&tbnw=132&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dclosing%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den&ei=86WySt_kApCl8Abf3eTRDQ"][IMG]http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/exhibitionist/closing-closed.jpg[/IMG][/URL] As a closing thought, I like to emphasize people over tools andmechanism. It's not that I don't like mechanism, I'm a huge google fan(search, gmail, talk, reader, docs, etc.) However, I'd bet dollars todonuts that the developers use almost all the tools - on a daily basis- to do their jobs. See [I]owner needs to be a user[/I] above.