Website Basic Problems


by Gerry McGovern

Every time I hear someone say that "every website is different"
I want to rush outside, grab an ancient oak, rip it up by its
roots, swing it wildly and lop the top off the nearest


Every time I hear someone say that "everybody is different" I
want to rush outside, race up the nearest decapitated mountain,
prostrate myself, and scream very loudly.


The very success of modern capitalism and mass production is a
testament to the fact that people have a great deal in common.
Human beings have the same basic needs. Sure, there are
differences here and there but we have the same basic drivers.

I have been in 35 countries in the last five years, and have met
thousands of web professionals. The same basic challenges come
up again and again. When I see studies of web behaviour, I see
the same basic patterns.


In every country I have been in, I have asked audiences to tell
me the one word that best describes people on the Web. One word
comes up again and again and again. What do you think that word



The Web delivers maximum value when there are clearly defined,
common tasks. The best web business model is one in which lots
of people want to do the same thing again and again. It's as
simple as that.


Look at Google, Skype, Amazon, Ryanair. What makes their
websites successful? The fact that they have identified common
tasks and created very streamlined, rule-based processes to
manage them.


I'm told that I don't understand the vast potential of the Web.
What about it's potential for emotional branding as a result of
deep interactivity, I'm asked. Huh?

There is indeed an emotion that dominates on the Web. I've found
it all over the world. This emotion is called:



People are cheap on the Web. They want stuff for free. They want
deals and special offers. I've found that, on the Web, even the
Swiss are cheap.


Please don't think about your website from the point of view of
emotional branding. Don't fall into the trap of designing for
exceptions. Please, never utter this vague, meaningless
statement: "People come to our website to find information."

Treat your website as a basic, lean, mean, self-service machine.
Seek to maximize the value from your website. You can do this by
identifying the most important tasks of your most important
customers and by relentlessly focusing on these tasks.

Nobody ever comes to your website looking for vague information.
They want to know what color a product comes in; how the changes
in the pension plan affect them; what the weather is like in
Ireland, etc.


Your website should be formulaic in both its design and its
processes. If you want to really do emotional branding on the
Web, give stuff away for free. Or better still, provide genuine
support that quickly helps people solve problems.


Most websites face the same basic problems, for which there are
the same basic solutions. There are now solid rules for managing
websites. The first one is: Design for what is common, not for
what is exceptional.