Irish web guru Gerry McGovern reinforced his speed and simplicity message to another New Zealand audience last week. In a breakfast address to a Computer Society/Institute of Management gathering, his theme was “less is more” and his comparison with a self-service store.
Convenience and speed are of the essence, he says. Customer must be able to go in quickly, get what they want and get out quickly. The customer comes to a commercial website with the attitude ‘don’t make me think”, McGovern says.
The McDonalds golden arches made a pointed appearance in his slides at that point. "You go into McDonalds with a mental clock ticking, and if you don't get served in the time you should, you walk out dissatisified."
No matter what the specialists in the audience might think, it is not most people’s idea of a leisure occupation to surf the web.”
Quoting Peter Drucker, he says we spent the last 50 years on the T (technology) side of IT; the priority for the next 50 years will be the I; the information half. This means organising information well, maintaining it and keeping it up-to-date. The information content of a website should be planned with the thought that a certain amount of time should be set aside to updating the content. The life-cycle of a piece of information doesn’t end with its publication, but with its destruction.
Information used to be like gold, a rare thing to be hoarded; now, he says, it is more like milk, to be used quickly before it goes sour.
There is, he agrees, a lot of “sour” outdated information around the web and “no drainage system”. The only hope was in encouraging developers not to “think big” with their sites and to keep the information under control.
Nor are more sophisticated search engines the answer, he says, in answer to a remark from the audience. “More than 90% of people doing a Google search don’t look beyond the first page — the first 10 entries. And hardly any use the advanced search facilities; they want things kept simple.”
As for getting your website onto that first page, one basic answer is to provide valuable information so you get a lot of other sites pointing to yours. “That’s how Google ranks sites,” he says. “And that’s what the web is all about; it’s not the amount of information but the number of connections you make.”
The breakfast event was followed by a day-long seminar on running a website on a tight budget.