When the change is unjustified

Before talking about the new product, we must ask: what makes the decision to scrap the existing product justified and logical?

By Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori

Published: Mon 21 Dec 2020, 1:02 PM

Our website is outdated. It’s time to change it. So let’s put together a list of new requirements and expectations, allocate a financial budget, and then launch a tender to hire an expert to create a website with new features.

This scenario is real and quite common. Many institutions intend to make sweeping changes to their electronic presence, either out of a sudden desire of a higher official or just because some time has passed since the website was last revamped, or for other reason.

Change is not the problem; it is vital and needed. However, if discarding the old is in the hands of the administrator, the change must be in the hands of the end-user, the customer.

Before talking about the new product, we must ask: what makes the decision to scrap the existing product justified and logical? When visitors leave your website without thinking of returning, or when the number of complaints increases, or when the bounce rate increases and the conversion rate decreases, or when two or more of these things happen, the decision to change becomes acceptable. Otherwise, it is a waste.

After the decision to change is made, we come to the ‘how’ part.

Do the experts and officials of the institution meet each other and determine the nature of the new product in terms of form and content, then they pass the implementation to the technical teams, whether inside or outside the organisation? This method is no longer sufficient; in fact, this practise stopped long ago.

No matter how long the entity’s experts reflect on the subject, it will not lead to a useful information map for the website unless the user is involved in the discussion. No matter how genius the administrator is, he will not be able to simulate the user’s experience of obtaining service, nor will he be able to predict the best expectations of that user.

The process should involve asking stakeholders by analysing user behaviour on the website, the search engine, heat maps, social media and call centres, and other pertinent data sourcing points and compare it with competitors’ data to identify the strengths and weaknesses. After that, experts and analysts can meet to come up with concepts that meet the aspirations of the real stakeholders.

We live in the time of data, Internet of things, social networking, and multiple horizontal communication, where data provides accurate inputs to reach accurate results. The superior methods of imposing change have been referred to retirement by modern technologies, and insisting on them only leads to loss of resources.

This bitter result is well known to those institutions that have spent a lot of money on their websites, and are still waiting for visitors to show up.

Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori is the Head of Digital Government and Director General, TRA

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