When it comes to website planning and design what is the best way to approach the project?
Our answer to this question is always some form of: “The way that best suits your customer’s needs, and or supports them to complete their task(s), in turn helping you reach your goals”. Of course, this is a fairly general answer, whose key purpose is to focus the decision maker on the customer rather than the business. So many website owners build a website that they like, or that suits their business convenience, rather than considering their customers’ attributes, behaviour, needs and tasks to be at the core of planning and design.
There is another factor that needs to be considered. When we are facilitating the planning process, often with a team of key decision makers, we often observe that despite all efforts a perceived optimum decision cannot be reached.
So why is this? Well taking into consideration that there is fundamentally no ‘right answer’ or ‘best way’, some decision makers are strongly motivated to find an optimum answer. In business, this would be the one that returns the highest outcome for the least input of resources, in other words, the greatest profit.
However, in practice this can result in a stalemate situation. Sometimes through lack of information, or sometimes due to a surfeit of it. Where no optimal solution clearly presents itself then we can find ourselves in a situation of too much choice, a plethora of options resulting in an inability to make a sound or trusted decision.
Consider how you feel when faced with a six page menu, or in a supermarket aisle containing twenty seven varieties of mayonnaise and a hundred or so other types of salad dressing. What happens? You either make a fast snap decision, often based on what you recognise or have already experienced to be good or at least satisfactory (therein lies the power of brand loyalty) or if you linger for only a moment too long, you find yourself in a mindset where a decision seems impossible: how do you decide between minute differences, or small variations in price? You start thinking about the consequences of your decision (albeit subconsciously at times), making the process even harder.
This is a well observed phenomenon. Known as ‘Hicks Law’ it observes that the more choices that are presented to us, the harder it is to make a choice and the longer it takes to make that choice. Not a new idea at all but is very relevant to the internet.
But what about our website, and the need to make a decision (or more likely a whole series of interrelated decisions), maybe we have to get the brief to the website development team by the end of the week to stay on schedule, or every day the website is delayed we are potentially losing money.
Well we might look at the idea of satisficing. No, that is not a typo, but a concept that involves looking at possible alternative strategies until an ‘acceptability’ threshold is reached. Many real world (as opposed to theoretical) problems are encumbered by lack of accurate information, or conversely, a multitude of conflicting data. Satisficing takes two threads: create an optimal solution for a simplified situation, or find a satisfactory solution for a more realistic one.
In case you are wondering, satisficing is a theory put forward by a Nobel prize winner back in the 1950’s so is nothing to do with the internet, but is certainly a useful concept that helps us to facilitate website planning and online strategy planning.
What you can do next
If you are bogged down with to many website planning decisions get in touch with PelaTis Online on 01639680248 to arrange for an website planning facilitator to give you external independent support in your website planning meetings.
About the Author
After 23 years working in electronics, production and mechanical engineering fields Nigel has spent the last 18 years working in the field of business development specifically on the internet.
Being at the start of the digital economy, Nigel has adapted and applied the principles of business development to the rapidly changing scene of the internet. With it the creation of new business models that work for clients had been his objective.
An author and digital business speaker his book “How to Get a Website that Works for your Business” has helped hundreds of SME business owners understand the principles of online success.
Today Nigel runs a digital consultancy PelaTis Online Ltd an independent eBusiness consultancy working with retail, manufacturing and service businesses. His insights and understanding of the way the internet works and the direction it is going in makes him the go to consultant for online business success.
Website planning is the first stage of any online development which Nigel T Packer and PelaTis Online offer consultancy services for. Get in touch by completing the contact form phoning 01639680248