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Online Membership Management Demands Simplicity too!

Lori Halley 18 April 2007 0 comments

While going through my RSS feeds, I came across an article by Gerry McGovern that reflects a key aspect in Wild Apricot - Ease of Use.

It is an excellent post on the significance of simplicity and usability on the web. The article is titled "Easy to Use: Why the Web Demands Simplicity" and describes the very essence of Wild Apricot.

From Wild Apricot's conception, our goal was to create a membership management software that would be easy to use and very affordable.

Surprisingly, it is still common to see nonprofit web sites that are very hard to use and that have many flashy designs and graphics. These organizations think that their flashy website design will impress visitors.  But that’s not what people are looking for.  Providing good user experience on the web is best way to go even for small nonprofit organizations.

How do you do it? Keep your website simple, let your content drive your design, focus on helping people do what they want to do fast and get out of the way. A successful user experience is one that balances the best usability practices while serving an organization's purpose and mission.

Read Gerry McGovern’s article below. It's a good read and has a lot of good points that nonprofits need to take to heart.

Easy to Use: Why the Web Demands Simplicity

The more sophisticated a society and its economy becomes, the easier it is for its citizens to do what they need to do.

In Lima, Peru, to legally establish a one-person garment workshop takes 289 days of bureaucratic toil, costing $1,231, 31 times the monthly minimum wage. In the Philippines, purchasing land can involve up to 168 steps, interacting with 53 public and private agencies, and take from 13 to 25 years. In Egypt, buying land can involve more than 77 procedures at 31 public and private agencies, and can take from 5 to 14 years. In Haiti, to buy land you need to jump over 111 bureaucratic hurdles, and wait for at least 12 years.
These countries have usability problems! And they are just a few examples from Hernando De Soto's groundbreaking book, The Mystery of Capital.

A key reason we embrace the Web is because it increases transparency and reduces complexity. The Web allows us to make better decisions faster. The Web allows us to book a cheap flight quickly. At its best, the Web makes our lives easier.

We assume that in less advanced countries, things are simpler and cheaper. The opposite is often the case. I grew up in an Ireland that was poor. I often wondered why most things I bought were more expensive than they were in England-our much richer neighbour.
In Ireland, interacting with the government, with banks, and other important institutions, was a very, very difficult process. Today, now that Ireland has become much richer, almost everything has become simpler and relatively cheaper (except the houses!).

Organizations have an innate desire to protect themselves, to project their power and to justify their existence. Complexity creates work. Like the peacock's feathers, complexity can be a very impressive show of what the organization is capable of.

The Web threatens complexity because the Web is about self-service, and self-service is founded on simplicity. The best websites are simple, not because they think being simple is a nice thing to do, but because they know that simplicity is necessary for success.

The Web offers you a glorious opportunity to do a massive spring cleaning at your organization. You have a rare chance to carry out a root-and-branch examination of what your organization does. Ask, 'Why?' about everything. Seek to eliminate and remove what you possibly can, because simplicity is a journey to the bare essentials.
Think of your website as a country. An advanced economy is built on a complex engine but a simple interface. A primitive economy is built on a simple engine but a complex interface.

Simplicity is a truly customer-centric philosophy. Making your website simpler is making it more effective. Adding complexity is easy, and is often a self-serving activity by those who are at heart organization-centric.

The Web is disruptive. It gives more power to the customer than to the organization. This is a rare moment in history. Make life simpler for your customers and you will make life better for everybody (except the peacocks).

Gerry McGovern is widely regarded as the number one worldwide authority on managing web content as a business asset. Gerry has spoken about web content in 31 countries. He has written three books, with his last one, Content Critical, being described as a "bible" of content management by Knowledge Management Review.
Read more on Gerry McGovern website

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 18 April 2007 at 1:17 AM
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