Setting Priorities by Janice Fraser
Nearly every company I've worked with since becoming a web professional six years ago has lacked an efficient way to decide which things to do first. Put 10 people into a room for an hour, and they'll surely come up with a wish list a mile long.
A few years ago I was VP of Web development for an online retailer. When the business manager team gave me a list of 250 separate features that they wanted to have by launch, setting priorities became a top concern -- we had only 2 developers on staff and 90 days to launch. A consultant I was working with at the time gave me a TQM-style process for prioritizing initiatives. I've refined and simplified it over the years, and have ended up with a tidy little process that's easy to use.
I've spent the last year working with clients on a variety of information architecture and design problems. One of the most strikingly consistent issues, however, has been how many of these companies still haven't developed content management systems. I've spoken with enterprises in the Fortune 100 who find themselves sitting on top of 6 years' worth of Web content trapped in static HTML files. They know they need to get this stuff into database and redesign their site into a template-driven system. But their first question is inevitably, "So, uh, where do we start?"
A number of smart businesses are realizing that the organizational characteristics that lead to their successes — such as agility, decentralized decision making, and fast growth — have made their Web sites unworkable through poor development processes and inconsistent user experiences. This frustrates any attempt by visitors to find meaningful information.
The Pendulum Returns, Part 2 by Peter Merholz
Last week I argued for the importance of decentralized organizations to unify their online presences. Now, achieving that is much easier said than done. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a handful of companies that have very successful web experiences despite strongly decentralized organizations. We set out to discover what makes these companies’ sites more effective, and found some consistent characteristics.