Henry Ford perfected the assembly line concept in the automobile industry many years ago, and it has been utilized successfully in many industries since. Before Ford implemented the highly successful assembly line, instead of focusing on what each skilled worker specialized in and passing the car down the line to the next worker, the skilled workers crafted cars one at a time together as a team. Ford’s introduction of the assembly line resulted in the development of affordable cars (decreased cost) and increased efficiencies in the manufacturing process. With the new process, the car came to the workers instead, where they performed their specialized tasks over and over again on each car as it came down the line.
Let’s use this topology to look at the development of your web site and online presence. Do you currently handle your web site efforts with the highly effective assembly line in mind? Or, is your IT Department writing copy and developing the functionality, layout, and design elements on your web site along with actually coding and developing?
You’re not alone. Many of my clients have marketing departments who hand off design work, as well as the functionality and content of their web site, to their IT Department without thinking about the consequences. The problem isn’t that these IT resources aren’t capable individuals. They are very talented in their area of expertise. The problem is that their area of expertise isn’t marketing related; it’s technology related. They don’t naturally empathize and understand their visitors’ behavior; therefore, the design, functionality, and content are usually created to satisfy what’s important to them–not to others. We know that the population doesn’t consist of only one personality type, and that it’s incredibly important to speak to all personality types on your web site.
These are some of the common problems that our clients have run into due to this lack of an effective assembly line, where the IT Department is responsible for everything online:
The following is a grok post from 2005, that was written about the IT Department’s struggles to speak to the visitor effectively:
“I like to imagine error messages are more often than not composed by techie types–folks who are perfectly happy to call a spade a spade and scratch their heads when you suggest the label might not sit well with all spades. Techies code stuff that will process provided you follow the process correctly. A form doesn’t submit because you overlooked entering your zip? Well, that’s down to you. The error message tells you so. End of story. Wanna go get a cup of coffee?”
The moral of the story is that we’re no longer in the 1990s and there are experts in every niche in the online world. Whether you’re a developer, designer, SEO expert or web site optimization and usability expert, don’t attempt to be a jack-of-all-trades. You’ll be losing out somewhere when you attempt to do it all. Do what you do best and outsource or hire others for the areas where your skills are lacking.