10 digital strategy mistakes close

David Hart
David Hart
In Codegent College
19th December 2012
10 digital strategy mistakes

Feeling like your web offering isn’t firing on all cylinders? You know that’s something up, but can’t quite put your finger on it? We take a look at the top 10 issues we often find when people ask us to review their current digital set-up.

1. You’ve designed it for yourself This is probably the biggest issue we see and it’s kind of obvious why it happens. It has a few different guises but pretty much falls under the same umbrella: we assume that if it makes sense to us, then it will make sense to everyone.

It could be that we see an information architecture that is based on the client’s organizational structure. You might see primary navigation that looks like this:

Home | Sales | Marketing | Warehousing | Delivery | Finance

… which is only interesting if you happen to be the Managing Director of the company. For your customers, chances are bigging up your Finance Director is about as interesting as knowing how large your warehouse is.

2. It’s too complicated If you’re reliant on someone doing something when they get there, it’s got to be simple. Not only that, but it has to be clear what they are doing and where in the process they are.

Whilst some “on-boarding” hurdles might be necessary, for every ‘please click the link we have emailed you to continue’ or ‘download this plug-in to start the service’ that you insist on, you are going to have to accept that a big slug of your customers just gave up.

Part of the design consideration should include a relentless determination to simplify everything as far as you can. If you can turn 4 clicks into 1, then you should do it.

3. Your logic is confused We mentioned about organizing your IA around your company rather than your customers, but sometimes, in a bid to make stuff ‘fit’, the structure of the content becomes confused. Ever been to a restaurant and you see the sign for the Toilets, but then you find that it’s the Ladies toilets and the Gents is through the door on the other side of the room and down a set of stairs?

This is a skilled area and impossible to sum up in a paragraph, but in a nutshell, it’s about working out how content is grouped and surfaced. You expect all toilets to be in the same place. Similarly, you want content about a specific product to be clearly delineated from content related to that product.

As a real life example, imagine you are looking at buying an amplifier to pimp up your home sound system. You might want to see pictures, technical specifications, price, delivery information etc in one place. You might also want to see what leads you need, what speakers go with the product, what other things you have looked at on the site etc, but you want that information separated from the main product details. You don’t want to be looking down a page about technical information and see in between HDMI sockets and Wattage, a reminder that you looked at a particular model of TV last month. It would be confusing, distracting and annoying.

4. Nobody knows what you do Obviously, what your business does is frankly brilliant. You don’t just produce widgets, you produce the best widgets in the world because you use an innovative technique that allows you to reduce costs, increase productivity, improve lives, reduce climate change, maximize shareholder value and innovate for the future.

But according to usability guru, Jakob Nielsen, you have to communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds, because any longer than that and visitors to your site will be onto something else. You need to people to be able to ‘get it’ quickly. This might mean that the subtle nuances might have to wait until later. Right now, you just need to tell them that you produce great widgets.

5. You haven’t thought about social So much of where we find and consume information is on social networks. How often have you read an article because someone posted something about it on Facebook first?

We’re not saying every organization has to have a Facebook, Twitter and YouTube presence: in some instances this would be pointless. But, what steps are you taking to make it easy for people to be talking about you with their friends and colleagues? If you have created a social presence, what is your strategy for engaging those who are following you? Is there some content that you would like to produce that would sit more logically on Facebook than in your corporate website?

As an example, we’re talking with one very large organization with huge audiences where the website has detailed articles around a particular subject, and their Facebook page has more ‘instant news’ related to events that happen on a regular basis. In this way, the website is used for valuable subject-specific resources and their social presence is for bite-sized updates.

6. Search engines don’t know what you mean Again, not something that can be summarized in a paragraph or two, but it is still the case that sites are structured in ways that make it hard to be picked up on Search Engines. Often, in an attempt perhaps just to get something up, people have overlooked simple things like meta-data or page titles. They may not have thought very hard about headings within the page, or the use of keyword phrases throughout the site.

In other cases, where content is being pulled from a database, you sometimes see URLs that don’t describe the page in anyway, a URL that ends with something like “viewProductDetail&itemCode=026” which tells a search engine that the product code is 026. Great if all of your potential customers are searching for product code 026, but less useful if they are searching for “galvanized widget”.

It’s also worth bearing in mind the value that Google places on social, too. If someone is talking about you and linking to you from their social networks, or if you are trending somewhere on Twitter, Google’s going to believe that this is important.

7. You’ve ignored mobile Saying that mobile is largely irrelevant to your brand, is like saying windows are largely irrelevant to a brick building. According to an Ofcom report this week, 58% of people have a smartphone in the UK and 16% of all web usage in the UK is from a mobile device. So, chances are that close to half of your customers have, at one time, experienced your brand on a mobile device. Even if only 10% of your traffic is via a mobile device, are you happy with the experience those 10% have? Maybe your competitors are happy to take on the mobile users you don’t care about.

8. There’s no reason to come back One thing we think about a lot at the beginning of a project is the user journey. The user journey changes based on…. you guessed it…. the user. So, we also consider the ‘use case’. In other words, if someone has visited your site before, what would be the situation that they would find themselves in that would prompt them to come back?

Page 1 of the marketing manual is all about how existing customers are going to be your most cost-effective ones to market to, so have you done enough to make sure they are properly catered for?

What are you doing to keep yourself front of mind? And when they do come back, is there anything there to make them glad they did?

9. You’re asking too much Imagine you are waiting at the till at the supermarket: you’ve loaded your stuff onto the conveyor belt and you’re ready to pay and go.

But wait! A member of staff comes up to you and asks you if they can carry your shopping to the car for no extra cost. Great – yes please, thank you.

They need your car registration number, make and model so they know where they are going to deliver it. Oh, and out of interest, do you know when your car insurance runs out? Then, just in case the person carrying your shopping to the car can’t find it, they also need your mobile number.

Can they have your date of birth please as they’d like to send you a birthday gift (basically vouchers to spend in their store)? And do you want to sign-up to be a member of the Carry Your Shopping To Your Car Club? If so, they just need your email address and a password.

At what point do you politely say that you have changed your mind and you will just carry your shopping yourself?

There will always be a battle between the organizational objectives (get as much data as possible) vs the customer objectives (get the goods or service as quickly and as effortlessly as possible). The question is really to what extent are you prepared to turn off some of your customers so you can get the data from the ones that will soldier on?

10. You just don’t care Perhaps all 9 of these preceding points can be summed up in one: do you care enough? Of course you care about getting lots of people to your site, selling them what you do and making a profit at the end of it, but if you show you genuinely care about their online experience, then they will be more inclined to care about you.

Make someone have to jump through loads of hoops, giving them a confused experience based on something that is irrelevant to them, making them scroll horizontally on their mobile and asking them loads of unnecessary questions, gives the impression that the only thing you care about is yourself.