Getting the Site Right

Nora kicks off a discussion in the breakroom…

…and the ensuing discussion, by and large, went…  Well, you’ll just have to see.

Here’s the Story…

It Starts Simply Enough

Sheila plops herself down in a sparsely cushioned stainless steel 2-1/2-person settee.  The cushion looks similar to a blanket pattern one would choose if riding a camel.  (I guess we need nicer furniture?)  Reacting not at all to the discouraged looks of her friends who’ve been trying to help her with improving her health by improving her eating habits, she says, “Jack, can you grab me a Big Gulp, zero-cal?”  (It wasn’t really a question.)  “Then you can sit here while we hash out how our website is s’posed to reach our target audience, and for that matter, who is our target audience?”  Sheila is by popular acceptance the work leader of this group of four.  That is, nobody else wanted to lead!

The Other Two in the Breakroom

Marshall and Nora, newly engaged, exhibit behavior some would call sweet, others sappy, and a few skeptics of young love, nauseating.  “Marshall, honey, what should we have?”  Jack turns from the soda dispenser.  “What, you’re in the family way already?  Good goin’, Marshall.”  “No, mister gutter-brain, I meant Marshal and me.  Aren’t you my baby, Marshall?”

Marshal smiles weakly at Jack while putting his card into the pastry dispenser with one hand and puts his other hand on Nora’s back.  “Babe, let’s split something.  An apple turnover?”  “That’s fine.  Have the coffee maker kick out a big cappuccino.  We can share that too.”

Finally, They Get Settled for the Discussion

All having their choices in hand, Marshall and Nora take the table near Sheila’s settee.  Jack got himself a vente and some fig bars.  Sheila accepts the Big Gulp from Jack as he settles in a polite distance from Sheila.  Nestling his coffee between his legs he pulls out his phone.  He reads from the About page of the website.

Quoting Our Website…

“As explained in our History, this site was originally designed to appeal to researchers in pharmaceutical neuroscience.  It was technical and specific.  The topics were arranged by mechanism of action, such as neuronal nicotinic receptors or kappa-opioid receptor antagonists.  The mechanism of action was then tied back to the disorder to be treated by this mechanism, such as tau vaccine for Alzheimer’s dementia or positive allosteric modulators at the GABAA receptor for post-partum depression.”

Down to Brass Tacks

“So, what do you all think?  We all got that same e-mail from the Sheila,” says Nora to kick off the discussion.  Marshal says, “Sounds like a speech to a room full of medicinal chemists.  It’s not what I’d call accessible.  No wonder most site visitors thought it was over the top too much.”  Sheila adds, “Well, that’s the history, what the original site was about.  You can’t change history and you can’t delete technical terms and have it make any sense.  Trouble is, making the site more accessible did not increase the percentage of people who spent a lot of time on the site, just trafficking by a different set of people.   Really, what were we trying to achieve?  It was s’posed to be more helpful and educational?. The CEO didn’t need more consulting, too busy as it is.  I thought helpful and educational would attract a lot of people.”

They Even Asked Their Children?

“Jack Jr. liked the new approach we tried.  He read it and prob’ly looked at five other pages before getting back to gaming.”  Nora asks, “What grade is your son in?”  “He’s a high school freshman.  Would you be implying we’ve now explored the other extreme, that is, too puerile maybe?”  Marshall completes her tact, “Pleasing some of the people all of the time.”

The Child Viewpoint Approach Goes Nowhere

“I thought it was ‘fool some of the people all the time.’”  Guys, really, I’ll admit that my son did help with the editing.  But really, and I’ll say it again, he really seemed interested.  And, I’d hope our online audience can’t be fooled.”  Sheila kids him, “I’ll write his recommendation for a summer apprenticeship.”

Brass Tacks, “Take 2”

Sheila continues, “So, let’s talk about our target audience.  Are we after pharma pros, clinical staff, or a more general audience?”  Marshall is seeking some guiding clarification for an improved revision.  “Okay, so what should be their take-away?”

Sheila has a further question, “And why are they even looking at NeuroSci?”  “And how much time do we have to get this right,” asks Marshal, giving Nora’s hand a little squeeze.  “’Til death do us part.”  Nora returns the squeeze.  Sheila looks at Jack and pretends to put her hand in her mouth to gag herself.  Maybe a “young love skeptic.”

Brass Tacks, One More Time

Jack gets back in the conversation.  “What if we take the lead.  What if instead of trying to entice people, what if we try to, well, a, serve them, help them?”  Nora thinks out loud, “What’s that they say about leading horses?”  Jack replies, “Well, maybe if one thinks his or her horse is thirsty, you’re trying to do it a kindness even if it doesn’t drink from the trough.  It’s my experience with pets that even if you are trying to be nice when you’ve misunderstood, they know they’re getting a little love.  Maybe that should be our attitude.  Love our site visitors even if they’re not interested in everything, maybe anything, we’re trying to do.”

But, Does Anyone Have a Good Idea?

Sheila hazards a guess, “So Henry Ford was loving Americans, and the car was what they were thirsty for even if they didn’t know it?  I heard Steve Jobs quote him, saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they’d have said faster horses.”

So, That’s Easy, We Ignore Our Audience

Nora wonders, “Well, in a way I can see that affecting how we take comments.  Note it when people say they’re dissatisfied with the presentation on the site now, but rather than just giving them what they ask for, shoot for a better target.  Is that where it’s going?”

Her fiancé chimes in.  “So, think about this.  What if one of our so-called gestures of love was that we’d do technical stuff when we see the need, but we’d also help the non-specialist, or non-professional, or just interested or concerned adult, help them all understand.”

Why Nothing Ever Changes

Sheila stands, holding her Big Gulp.  As their garbage is tossed into the can, they follow her out.  Once in the hall Sheila turns and says, “But won’t we still have to decide on what level we need to explain to?”

One flight of stairs down, and down two short halls, they separate to their own spots in prairie-dog town.

Post-Script Note

Not long after the above conversations a revision of the entire website was started.  Something worked!

Helpful links:

rosseto serving solutions blog – Break Time!  25 of the Best Employee Break Rooms, Cafes and Cafeterias in the US

the balance careers – Get Ice Breaker Questions for Meetings at Work

Science News- Children and Adults See the World Differently, Research Finds

Write Choice – 1 Quickest Way to Ensure Your Children Generate Better Ideas

wikiHow to do anything… Write Successfully for the Web

enchanting marketing – 9 Simple Tips for Writing Persuasive Web Conent