People Come to your Website with a Specific Task in Mind – The United States Government

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After bringing news of the UK initiative to focus local government websites on Top Tasks, there seems to be somewhat of a trend going on with the US government latching onto the same concept.

In the UK, the statement included – “a Top Tasks approach is essential to developing websites that work easily and quickly for customers, and, therefore a key component of achieving channel shift.”

On the usa.gov website, guidance to agencies to improve the customer experience includes:

  • People come to your website with a specific task in mind. If it isn’t easy to find and quickly complete that task, they’ll leave.
  • Identify the mission—the purpose—of your website, to determine your visitors’ #1 top task.

At a time when satisfying consumers that choose to self serve online is becoming paramount to many organizations, Top Task identification is gaining traction. Websites cannot afford to be dumping grounds for every document ever written or organized around company structure and organizations.

It is not just government sites that need to be reminded to focus on customer top tasks. Take Dell as an example, who otherwise has much to be proud of online. The first action demanded of a computer-buying consumer is to select the type of customer they are. Especially hard is the choice between “Home” and “Small and Medium Business”. Surely, this forces hesitation and begs many unnecessary questions such as – does the home user get a better or worse price deal? As a power home user, do I need the options available to small businesses? As a one-man small business working from my house, which option should I choose? This really smacks of Dell designing the website around organization structure, not customer tasks – As a consumer, I want to buy a computer, the first question would be better if it was “Desktop” or “Portable”. Apple makes no similar demand; they try to sell me a computer and I respect that because that why I came to the site.

The Top Task approach becomes even more critical as consumer increasingly reach the site from mobile devices; How many items can you present on the small screen? ? 3, 4 – maybe 5 or 6, but do you know what those t op tasks are?

Read the guidance from the US Government, it is sound and can be found at http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/managing_content/focusing_top_tasks.shtml. For the UK guidance, you can find it at http://www.socitm.net/events/event/245/

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Terry Golesworthy
As the president of The Customer Respect Group for 7 years, I focus on the online experience of consumers. Online experience has always been bigger than the company website, from the response to email to integration to other offline channels. It has now grown to include social media.

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