Why Your Website Can Reflect Your Organizational Dysfunction – Here’s Why #236

Why Your Website Can Reflect Your Organizational Dysfunction

Organizational dysfunction is supposed to be an internal issue within an organization. But how can website visitors sense it by just visiting the website?

In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Eric Enge and Brian Weiss explain how organizational dysfunction impacts users on your website and how you can fix it.

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Eric: With me today is Brian Weiss. Brian is a Managing Marketing Consultant here at Perficient who helps us in the areas of technical SEO and content programs – actually, a lot of our different digital marketing programs. Thanks for joining me today, Brian.

Brian: Glad to be here.

Eric: Absolutely. So, I wanted to talk a little bit about organizational dysfunction, and the question is, what kind of symptoms on a website might actually give you a clue about what kind of organizational dysfunction is going on in your company?

Brian: Well, there’s a lot of them, but they fall into two major classes that are somewhat related. The first is disconnected experiences or just difficulty finding things on the site. Especially if the people who work there don’t know how to find everything and have to do a Google search, that’s a pretty good sign that your users would find it hard to navigate to things.

Eric: Sure.

Brian: The other thing is seeing lots of half-realized visions or pages where it looks like it went up, it was a big priority at some point, and then it was forgotten. I also refer to this as the graveyard of past shiny objects.

Eric: Awesome. Probably a place where you don’t want to be would be my guess.

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Brian: Yes.

Eric: They’re certainly both common symptoms on the enterprise sites, but what do you think the common causes are?

Brian: I think it’s a little bit easier to diagnose with the disconnected experiences. Usually, that’s reflected by disconnection within the organization or organizational silos. You need to make sure that your website reflects your user needs and not your organizational structure or what’s convenient for you to produce from a departmental basis.

Eric: Got it. I love the way you talked about this, the phrase you have about this. So, tell me about the graveyard of past shiny objects.

Brian: I think the biggest thing there is a lack of clear, consistent vision that’s communicated across the organization. What happens is the internal feedback loops within the organization are not really functioning properly. Ideally, you’d be getting bottom-up feedback from across the organization. Then leadership synthesizes that into a top-down vision that gets communicated to everybody, so we’re all on the same page. A lot of times, a vision that lacks that bottom-up input is disconnected from reality, and it’s likely to fail. You also get a lack of commitment to push through challenges or initial failures since nobody’s that confident in it. People can see their feedback wasn’t part of this, and it just seems like another thing that’s being shoveled to us without a lot of thought.

Eric: Right.

Brian: And there’s not enough time to plan properly quite often – and really, without much time for testing as well.

Eric: I think what we see a lot is, because of organizational silos, you might have the marketing department that’s really big into pushing microsites for some marketing promotion program. They do a great job, and it gets a lot of press, and they get 1,000 really good, high-quality links, and then they abandon it. This is just one of many examples, as you know. But it’s a good one because all that wonderful press and link juice, if you like to use that term, is just wasted. It’s laying fallow here, bringing no benefit to the rest of the website. And just by making a subfolder on the site, you could’ve actually captured all that value to the site. So, there’s one example for you.

Brian: Yes.

Eric: What should you do really if your organization has these kinds of problems?

Brian: It depends on your position within the organization, but if you’re not somebody who has a cross-department influence or purview, there are really three things that you want to document and try to bring up the chain to get results. One is to document instances of bad user experience. Another is the loss of potential revenue that usually gets attention. And the third one is that your competitors are doing it better. That’s another thing that tends to get people’s attention.

Eric: It does get people riled up, doesn’t it?

Brian: Yes. You won’t be able to improve everything at once. But if you can pick your battles, make sure you’re doing this on things you’re confident will really make a difference, you can start impacting change and having more influence on the organizational dynamics.

Eric: And if you’re somebody who already has influence in the organization, sometimes it can be helpful to bring in a third-party agency to bridge organizational silos and help construct a sound and cohesive vision for you. Actually, that external authority is often very helpful in getting more senior management to buy into what you’re trying to do, and you get other perspectives into the mix, which is valuable.

Brian: The other thing to consider is implementing a set of governance principles and procedures. The goal isn’t to create bureaucracy, but you want to have a set of shared expectations across the organization on how, when, and why content gets added to the site.

Eric: Right. And it’s also helpful to look at the goals and incentives across the entire organization. Make sure people are incentivized to work together. We’ve seen some great examples where the social media team for a site was goaled one way. Then the SEO team wanted to get the social media team’s help, and they couldn’t because the goals of the social media team were a complete cross-purpose for what might’ve been a better, broader organizational objective. So, you’ve got to get those goals aligned.

Brian: Yes. If you can get everybody on the same page working in the same direction, it can be really powerful.

Eric: That’s right. But it isn’t easy to turn around a big cargo ship or an aircraft carrier, for an analogy. So, the best time to start is now.

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About the Author

Eric Enge leads the Digital Marketing practice for Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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Thoughts on “Why Your Website Can Reflect Your Organizational Dysfunction – Here’s Why #236”

  1. Thanks for providing this list of SEO blogs. They are very useful while searching for new SEO strategies and techniques. Some of them I know but quite a few are new to me will check those out. Keep posting.

  2. Hi Eric,

    This video really hit home. Before I became the COE Digital I was lucky enough to form a web steering team that was tasked with migrating 30 different company websites into one corporate website. We identified 60 different stakeholders across 3 countries to contribute to the requirements. The team had to prioritize the goals which left a lot of shiny objects behind but improved the CX and conversion KPIs by 30% right after launch. And as a bonus of communicating the process we were using for decisions and having each company’s marketing departments have a say in the requirements improved the inter- company cooperation, and digital marketing culture.

    I’m a big fan of having a permanent cross functional steering team in international and matrix companies.


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