Design Digital Marketing Information Architecture UX

How a Website Manager Prevents a Tragedy of the Commons

Websites tend to be a meeting point where a lot of departments and stakeholders converge with no single entity preventing a tragedy of the commons situation.

Mismanaged content spirals out of control until the company is forced to spend tens of thousands to rehaul the site. Or, they deal with the crappy website and pay for it through staffing to address customer complaints and questions that could otherwise be addressed online. 

How do I know this? Because I’ve lived it for the past 10+ years, and as the average internet surfer I’m enraged on a daily basis by being unable to complete simple tasks on websites. You know, such as giving a company my money. That shouldn’t be hard!

Gerry McGovern recently discussed website mismanagement from the standpoint of environmental pollution. He describes one website weighed down with heavy print-quality (vs light-weight web quality) images as “like a filthy, rusty 25-year-old diesel truck, belching fumes as it trundles down the Web.”

McGovern says we need digital designers who “think about the weight of every decision they make.” Yes, digital designers should care, but they won’t care because they don’t have a stake in how the website performs. A website manager does. No one is checking to see that image libraries are clean, make sense and filled with optimized images. But they ARE checking to see if that digital designer has completed the landing page on time and to spec. 

I helped my husband relaunch his company’s physical therapy website that hadn’t been updated in so long it still had a button to check in on FourSquare. The company had a random corporate marketing person develop the website. The corporate HQ was simply hitting copy and paste on physical therapy sites from around the country and adding new images and copy. When I inspected the admin area there were HUNDREDS of (print quality!) images from other websites in one mass library. 

The new website was on page 7 of Google and all of the SEO was simply copied over from a PT clinic in Oregon (we’re in South Carolina). We updated all of the SEO and wiped out all of the old images to make it faster. All of the images uploaded by corporate HQ were giant, print-quality sized images so we replaced them with images sized and saved for the web. Our efforts bumped the website up to page 1. 

What can we do? 

As digital marketers, I say that we own it! Maybe it’s not in your job description, but do it anyway. I’ve found that no one really wants to do it, but it’s a job people will gladly give you ownership. Once enough of us start doing it and showing the benefits it might become a more common in-house role vs one that is outsourced to a poorly managed agency.

What does it mean to “own it”? For me, that looks like regularly scheduled CMS and EMS cleanups. Literally put those on your calendar a year out and invite key stakeholders on a quarterly basis, or more frequently depending on how messy you are.

It also means having a system to properly store images and documents so that you can actually clean those up. It means educating content editors so that they know not to put print quality images on the website.

I could go on, but starting with the above will get you pretty far down the road to owning it!

Leadership Work Culture

Leadership Starts Before You’re a Leader

It’s somewhat painful listening to a CEO on a quarterly earnings call thanking everyone “so much” for all of the “hard work.” It sounds hollow, and it often is. But I’ve been at two companies where it didn’t feel hollow because the CEO took time to make an appearance and learn some names. 

When I was at Midmark, CEO John Baumann took a few minutes a day to walk the floor and learn everyone’s name and their job function when he started at the company. He’s a CEO. He’s BUSY, and it’s a big company. But he made time to take 10 minutes to walk around the building every now and then. When he spoke, I didn’t just listen. I was engaged. I was more engaged with the company as a direct result of one person at the top acknowledging our existence. (I loved this company for many other reasons, but that was a big one!)

At PR Newswire Europe, the global CEO at the time, Ninan Chako, would sometimes visit the London HQ. He knew my name! He even referenced a conversation with me during a quarterly staff meeting. Because that was my first job, I didn’t yet realize it wasn’t a given that executives take the time to get to know the people in the trenches. Still, I felt “famous.” I was highly motivated to do a good job, because I thought I was on Ninan’s radar! I wasn’t, but he made me feel seen. 

In A Higher Loyalty, Comey talks about taking note of great leadership qualities from the time when he was a teen working in a grocery store. What made him feel motivated, trusting and committed? What made him angry? 

I’ve always thought the same thing, and as time goes on certain characteristics have stuck with me, such as Ninan Chako taking a couple minutes out of his day to talk to me and digesting what I said to the point that he mentioned it during a global meeting. I want to be intentional about carrying these traits through my own leadership in the future.