Highly effective websites are like highly effective people. They don’t just happen. Their success is honed and developed. To explore this thought I found a summary of Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
- Habit 1: Be Proactive
- Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
- Habit 3: Put First Things First
- Habit 4: Think Win/Win
- Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
- Habit 6: Synergize
- Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
That works 🙂 The first 3 habits are pretty clear. The proactive part simply means taking a good look inside, in our website scenario this step would include an analysis of what your business site already has going for it, then adding a careful mix of research and dreaming to see what it ultimately should be.
Beginning with the end in mind? In other circles that would mean setting clear goals. Give yourself and your people a destination. Think of the early American pioneers in their covered wagons. They knew their ultimate destination was San Francisco or LA or Portland. Because they know this fact they could route their course and measure their day to day accomplishments. So it goes with website planning. If you know where you want your website to take your business it makes for much easier pathway planning. It also give you the ability to set up milestones along the way.
Put first things first – As simple as this seems, it is really quite the opposite. As C.S. Lewis once said, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.” It has to do with prioritizing and giving tasks ordered values.
My favorite habits are 5, 6 and 7 because not only do they apply swimmingly to website planning and implementation they also are practically the poster children of good social media practices.
Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood – We don’t call them customers anymore. We call them the community members. Customers were the old school advertisement recipients, the broadcastees. They received the messages from our ads and then for the most part, they kept their mouths shut. Community members talk often, they talk loudly and they are wired to large numbers of other community members. By getting to know them, chatting, sharing and learning from them – products improve, brands gain loyal followers and complaints are dealt with quickly.
Synergize – This is Habit 5 with a kick. Its teamwork, group-created new solutions and big ideas. It happens when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And it is great fun.
Sharpen the Saw – In the summary this habit is explained, “Take time out from production to build production capacity through personal renewal of the physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual dimensions. Maintain a balance among these dimensions.” On an enterprise level Google defined it as ‘Innovation Time Off’, their practice of encouraging all engineers to spend at least 20% of their time on projects of their own choosing. This has benefited Google greatly resulting in such products as Gmail, Google News, AdSense and Orkut.
I would also put ‘learning adapting and constant implementation’ into habit 7’s saw sharpening requirements. In order for a website to be highly effective it must change and grow with the trends of technology and communications. A site that was effective three years ago has already lost quite a bit of its luster. The way messages are delivered and received on the web changes – sometimes quicker than others. The changes we are witnessing now are flying lightening fast. As Catherine the Great said (and I’m sure would say again if she were surveying the social scene) “A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache.”