I have added an article to my site that was originally published in a Society for National Association Publications newsletter: Slaying Sacred Zombie Cows. This piece expands on an earlier post where I first mentioned these pernicious sacred zombie cow programs and how we have a unique opportunity to kill them off now.
It’s one of the best family-friendly games because it’s easy for everyone to play. “Wii Sports has been great for my 4-year-old daughter and me to play together,” says C. David Gammel. “Within a week, she was beating me at boxing and bowling pretty regularly.”
Ella has a lot of excess kinetic energy, which is a great asset for the Wii. That’s my girl!
Since I created the entry, it has been edited hundreds of times (only a few by me) and is a nice comprehensive, yet concise, article now. This is one of the reasons why I love the Internet and the Web.
There was an interesting thread last week on a list I subscribe to about how to best launch a major web site redesign. I ended up writing a white paper in response on how to best prepare for a web site launch from a technical standpoint: Five Critical Steps for a Successful Web Site Launch.
There was also a discussion of whether you should market the new site in advance or launch it quietly without fanfare. In my view, the decision should be driven by your overall goals and confidence in your timelines.
If the new site is the embodiment of a major initiative, making a splash with the launch may be in order. However, if you are not highly confident in your ability to stay on schedule, the soft launch will ameliorate a lot of potential risk.
Finally, when you do market the new site, focus on the new value it provides to visitors rather than the fact it is new. This sounds obvious but it is easy to lose sight of after the organization has invested so many resources in the effort.
I have added a new article to the site today:Avoid “Me Too” Web Site Benchmarking. This was originally published in Association Trends and discusses how to conduct web site benchmarking that actually advances your organization toward your own goals, rather than implementing a mishmash of tactics without critical analysis.
Joel Spolsky just posted a nice essay on how his company provides insanely good customer service. I have been on the receiving end of that service (back when Joel was often doing it himself) and it is indeed great. Read the whole essay, good stuff: Seven steps to remarkable customer service.
However, the most radical idea in the whole piece is nestled in at the end of the article. Joel creates career paths for his customer support staff. How can a small company do this? The career path shoots beyond the company within a few years:
Many qualified people get bored with front line customer service, and I’m OK with that. To compensate for this, I don’t hire people into those positions without an explicit career path. Here at Fog Creek, customer support is just the first year of a three-year management training program that includes a master’s degree in technology management at Columbia University. This allows us to get ambitious, smart geeks on a terrific career path talking to customers and solving their problems. We end up paying quite a bit more than average for these positions (especially when you consider $25,000 a year in tuition), but we get far more value out of them, too.
They pay good money and put their customer support folks through college (!) while they work the phones and e-mail, wowing Fog Creek’s customers. And then they leave for greener pastures, but it is by design. Highly talented people have to compete for these typically undersirable jobs, just for the chance to learn from Joel and get a great education. Joel has created the purple cow of customer support jobs. Amazing. But there is no reason you can’t do the same.
I have added a new article to the resources section of my web site: Managing the Politics of Your Web Site’s Information Architecture. This article was originally published in Associations Now. In it I discuss how to defuse political infighting around your site’s information architecture by focusing on achieving your stakeholders outcomes and creating a variety of traffic guidance tools for managing your site. Here are the first two graphs:
Some days it may seem that the biggest problem with your Web site is not the technology that powers it but the power struggles that threaten to undermine it. Whether in a large, decentralized organization or in a small, local nonprofit, a Web site can turn into a battleground on which everyone fights for prime spots on the home page to highlight their programs. Too often, the winners are the ones who are best at internal politics. The losers are the weaker negotiators—and the visitors who give up in frustration without finding what they want.
It doesn’t have to be this way. By thinking about what’s behind the struggle, you as a Web site manager can de-emphasize internal politics while helping organizational stakeholders achieve their goals through—not in spite of—your Web site’s information architecture.