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English articles, Top Tasks, Toptaken

The case of the political home page

Politicians are experts in getting attention. Too often, websites of towns, provinces, counties, governments feature photos and news and trivia about their mayors, governors, ministers, prime ministers. They just want a political home page. They often demand it, with all their weight and power.

Websites need to be designed around the customers’ needs, right? At the same time websites need to be designed around the organisation’s business goals, right? Right.

Look at Number 10 in the UK, l’Elysée in France, Bundeskanzlerin in Germany, to mention a few. More than anything else, these websites are marketing the politicians and their important work.

Looking up biographies, photos and news about politicians again and again appears to be a tiny customer task. So, why have it on the home page, the top task consultant would say. Classify it under ‘About…’ or something. Test an easy path to this information to make sure that the few interested customers will find it. Logic, just design that, end of story.

There is however a small business case for having the politicians ego on the home page.
First, very probably the home page is visited only by a small number of customers – including the egos themselves and their communication and reputation advisers. So let them have it. Most users will never see it. (By the way, politicians on average are probably not more ego-prone than CEOs or other prominent figures)

Secondly, there is a business goal being served. Any organisation should have good contact and ‘about us’ information. So, why not do it with quality content, efficiently, and with minimal ego-marketing. And if a place on the home page is the price for having their buy-in, let them have it, state-of-the-art.

One point this top task consultant (me) insists on, though, is that on that home page the real customer top tasks occupy the most important screen places, even on that hardly visited home page. Chuck out the carrousels, throw away mood images, put the task-driven navigation upfront, and then there is room for a sensible and functional presence of the politicians. And if they really want and insist, let them have a separate website built for getting attention.

Over time, some politicians may even learn from the evidence on task performance and customer satisfaction that their ego and image is better served when their customers are happy users of their public services. They might learn that they might gain popularity by serving the people that elected them to do exactly that. They might just learn that on the web giving attention is much better than getting attention.

About Toon Lowette

Customer is not king on the internet, he is dictator. Online services are successful if they allow the customer to do what he came for efficiently and without confusion. Toon Lowette is online publishing consultant in the Customer Carewords network of Gerry McGovern. Task management is the central issue. We teach websites to manage the task, not the content, not the technology. We teach websites to become relentlessly customer centric.

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