Friday, June 09, 2006

The Importance of a Customer-Centric Design Approach: An Interview with Gerry McGovern

Focus on the customer...

"Gerry McGovern is a world-renowned content-management expert and author of the books, "Content Critical" and "The Web Content Style Guide." User Interface Engineering's Christine Perfetti recently talked with Gerry about the importance of a customer-centric approach to design. Here is what Gerry had to say about his experiences.

UIE: Over the past several years, you've been traveling the world sharing content management and information architecture best practices. Have you come to any new insights?

I've seen that customer focus is the essence of the web economy. The web changes the dynamics of the relationship between the organization and the customer. The customer is more empowered, more in control.

Most organizations aren't focusing enough on the customer. Their marketing material might talk about how important the customer is, but the culture of most companies is organization-centric—they focus on themselves. The problem with this approach is that organization-centric websites fail. The customer-centric websites are the ones that succeed.

What changes have you seen on the Web since you first started talking about it in 1994?

I’ve experienced three major phases for the Web: Infrastructure, Architecture, and Content.

In the early days (1994-1999), the major focus was on Infrastructure. Just getting everything technically working was not that easy. There was a big fascination with technology and a belief that all you needed to do was get the right technology and everything else would fit into place.

Around 1999, a greater emphasis on Architecture began to emerge. People had experimented a lot with layout and navigation, and there was a sense that it was time to begin formulating some rules. Large organizations, which often had totally different designs for their many websites, began to develop best practices and standardize."   continued ...   (Via UIE)


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