Corporate Eye

Great Question. Difficult Answers.


The question:  “Is your website SNOWED?”

The question comes from a post by Jeremiah Owyang–and the acronym stands for “Stakeholders’ Needs Overwhelm Web Experience Design.”  For an example of this condition, the post point to this case study:

Take for example the American Airlines website, which was so frustrating to users that designer Dustin Curtis decided to mock up an improvement and write this open letter. One of the designers from AA responded, saying there were over 200 stakeholders involved in the final output of the product, resulting in the jumbled mess of a corporate webpage.

The AA designer’s lengthy response offers a glimpse of conditions that prevail at many large companies, and definitely worth reading.  Though the web team understands the requirements of user experience design, their judgments are often over-ruled by pressure from various stakeholders who want prominent page space for this or that message or function.  And the letter points out that in large companies, a clean, complete redesign is generally considered impossible.  Changes must be made “organically, as the site evolves.”  (Which is hardly the best way to replace a bad site with a good one . . . )

Owyang’s suggested solution is “have an empowered Web Strategist” to balance the needs of the user community, the business stakeholders, and the technology conditions.  Which sounds like an excellent idea–but not easy to implement at most companies.

The SNOWED problem can be a bit different in terms of the Careers area.  For one thing, there may be just one dominant stakeholder (often HR) and there may be a separate web team, or even a separate domain for Careers, and that could provide more design freedom.  But on the other hand, the functional demands of content management (job posting, for example) and applicant tracking offer added complication.

The balancing act for Careers could be combining (a) the machinery needed to fill specific jobs with (b) the demands of employer branding and (c) the need to offer focused messaging on certain job types, career paths, benefits, etc.  The Careers team may need to create multiple paths to reach multiple audiences in a time-critical way-which can be quite a challenge.

Two approaches gaining increased attention are landing pages and micro-sites.  More on each topic in future posts, but in the meantime, here are two quick views from StandoutJobs:  Coming in for a Landing and Micro-site Strategy.

(Thanks to John Holm for the gorgeous snow scene.)

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Cynthia Giles has followed a serpentine career path from academia to publishing to marketing and design to information technology and corporate communications. There’s plenty of detail about this journey at, but briefly--the common theme has been ideas, and how to present them effectively. Along the way, she became an accidental expert on data warehousing and business intelligence, and for the past ten years she has combined corporate contracting with an independent consulting practice that focuses on marketing strategy for smaller businesses and non-profits. Having spent quite a bit of time looking for work, and anywhere from two weeks to two years inside a wide variety of American companies—she has given much thought to what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to creating a great employment fit.

I would take Jeremiah’s point further and suggest that an org have its own Web Department (not managed by Mktg or IT) — it’s own entity, as suggested by this brilliant piece by Paul Boag posted on Smashing Magzine back in Feb:

Hi autom – thanks for putting those two ideas together. Both articles are excellent and well worth considering together (I have to admit to a bias here, because I wrote a post in response to Paul’s, here: On harsh truths and the corporate website).

It is difficult to know what the best structure would be, because all external communications need to be conveying the same messages and brand, whether they are online or offline, or even whether they are on the corporate website or on a social media outpost. Whoever you have in that position (web department or web strategist) needs to be good at liaising with those people responsible for other (off-web) external comms, with the IT department, and with those responsible for internal communications too. They need to understand the demands of both Marketing and IT. And then they have to be able to match the web strategy up to the business strategy. It’s a challenging role, and possibly one fraught with tensions. It would be fun, though, wouldn’t it?

I got nothing to say. But i have a question. I am working in one of the telecom company, as an associate in project mangement team. Recently a new manager got appointed for our team. On the general introduction with team he asked couple of questions, for which we were unable to know on what base this question need to be askwered. Here i go with the question and i need an aswere for these questions, were i can make all my teammates stunned.
1). Who you are?
2). What are you doing?
3). What do you want to be?
I have one rough idea as this question is professional and related to my profession.

Please advise:)


Chidananda – I’m not sure we can help here, because these questions are so personal. I expect he was hoping to find out more about his new team members, whether they were happy doing the work, what the major issues were and what their future ambitions were. Perhaps even if you had some ideas for a better future for the team? I hope you found a suitable answer.

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