7 habits of highly successful websites #1 My god is this thing breathing?

In December 2005, the highly regarded science magazine Nature decided to test the two most authoritative sources of knowledge both offline and online.

In the offline corner was Encyclopaedia Britannica. In the online corner was the newcomer Wikipedia.

Nature asked a list of experts to review and report on 50 articles in each Encyclopaedia. The results were sort of expected, but the outcome was a good example of the difference between the old and the new way of managing content.

The experts found that there were 2.9 errors in Encyclopaedia Britannica, and 3.9 errors per article in Wikipedia. Nature commented that “Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its science entries.”

One of these organisations had been publishing since 1768, the other had been in existence 5 years.

However, the most important outcome of this result was that the Wikipedia errors were updated and fixed the following day. There was no need to wait for the next edition.

To one organisation, information is alive and dynamic; to the other, information comes to a dead-stop when it is published. Everything needs to wait for the next edition.

Online we have a mountain of feedback to helps us maintain a living, breathing entity. We have keywords to understand the language visitors are using to find us; we have paths to understand how visitors are traversing the site; we have entry and exit pages to understand when they arrive and where they leave.

We need to make better use of these tools to modify and arrange our site to better cater for visitor needs. And we do this. More importantly, we need to realise that we are a content publishing organisation and provide relevant content to visitors as they arrive.

Look at the way that Amazon remembers your previous selections. It’s actually invisible. For a good explanation of what is happening, see this article: The Spongebob Squarepants Explanation of Interaction Models.

On employment site jobsjobsjobs.com.au the system remembers the criteria you entered previously to provide a fresh list of jobs every time you return. On the Home Page. The site creates over one million unique home pages every month. Every home page is unique to the User’s previous criteria. Other employment websites ask you to fill out the same information on every visit.

Print used to be King. The King is dead.

Long live the King.

Online is the new King. Online use of WhitePages and YellowPages passed the offline version years ago. Online classifieds such as jobs, real estate, auctions, have become more important than their offline counterparts.

The king is about remaining fresh and relevant.