Gerry McGovern is widely renowned for being an international authority on increasing customer web satisfaction. He is a prolific author and speaker who has written and consulted extensively on web content management issues since 1994. He spends a little time with Web Courses Bangkok give a few tips on how to be more successful online.
Tell us a little about yourself, for those not familiar with you and your work.
I’ve been involved in the Web since 1994. I’ve published 5 books, the latest one is called The Stranger’s Long Neck. I’ve worked in 35 countries doing web consulting for organizations like Microsoft, Cisco, Tetra Pak, Schlumberger, OECD, etc.
From your book ‘The Stranger’s Long Neck’ we learn that websites need to be customer centric, what is the best way new designers can achieve that?
To truly understand the top tasks of your customers and measure how easy it is for them to complete these tasks on your website. Customers come to websites to complete tasks—they’re always at your website to do something.
You have worked with some large companies, what is the main difference in their processes than with smaller boutique agencies.
Large companies have more complicated navigation and search challenges. Their websites also tend to grow very quickly and become very large and unwieldy. Because there is so much content it also tends to go out of date. So, the older the websites becomes, often the less useful it becomes.
Who should be responsible for a company website
Those with a service orientation. The Web is all about self service and a self service website is best designed by service professionals. These sort of professionals tend to have a keen interest in seeing that the customer has been successful.
What has been the worst mistake you have seen with regards to a site not focusing on user tasks.
You used to get government websites that had pictures of politicians plastered all over them. That was pretty awful. In commercial websites you still see silly pictures or smiley face hero shots totally dominating the page. At worst, organization centric websites flaunt their own egos.
Do you have any tips for someone who is planning out their site?
Focus on your customers’ top tasks. Why are they coming to your website? What do they want to do? How can you help them do it as quickly as possible?
What can a beginner get from your book ‘Killer Web Content”
Less is often more on the Web. Yes, people need content to get stuff done on websites but they want to read as little as possible. Lead with the need. Get straight to the point.
What projects are you currently working on?
We’re doing a lot of really interesting work right now for Microsoft and Cisco. What fascinating is that when even small changes are made they can have major impacts. It’s very exciting to be working on websites that are so big and central to the future of their respective organizations.
What sites are the first you go to in the morning and the last at night?
I’m a bit of a news junkie so I do check out Google News, and BBC, Time, etc. Also, Techmeme, which I find a good resource for technology news and trends. I also check out Twitter.
What advice would you give our beginners?
Focus on your customer. And the most important rule here is: YOU are not your customer.
Web Courses Bangkok would like to thank Gerry for giving his time for our interview program.