In any business, it’s critical to focus and direct all available energy and resources into meeting predetermined goals. Recently, while I was reading the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, a quote caught my attention:
“If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”
Organization focus should be visible in every aspect of your business. This is true even for your website, be it a corporate website or a transactional or social one. Many websites, even several corporate ones, look cluttered and do not clearly bring out the product/service that is being offered. This dilutes the messaging to your potential customers or employees.
There is a famous dating site called HotorNot.com. It was started in 2000 by James Hong and Jim Young. After creating a basic page where one can upload a picture and get members of the opposite sex to rate the picture, Hong and Young sent the link to some of their friends (40 to be exact) and the site just grew from there. HotorNot was recently acquired for an undisclosed amount. Most bogglers quoted the amount at $20 million.
Today, if one looks at HotorNot, it is a very comprehensive product with many features. Do you think it would have been so successful and gained viral growth if it was launched with all these features on Day 1? The fact that HotorNot started with the most critical / core applications as the only feature surely contributed to the success of the site. Twitter and Basecamp are similar examples, i.e. started with doing one thing very well and added more features as the traffic started growing.
There are many examples even in the non-IT domain, where a product was designed to do one thing extremely well and more features were added with subsequent releases. For example – iPods dominance in the world of MP3 players is unquestionable. There are several features in iPod today that were not there in the first model that was launched.
Most websites suffer from feature overload. Having Q&A, forums, blogs, chats, messaging, photo galleries, video galleries and shopping carts with comparison shopping all in one website is a disaster in the making. You need to decide your niche, your differentiator and your ability to market that niche. Once you have that, build on top of it.
I am not suggesting that you always start building your website with just one feature or service. However, every feature that you have on the site or every service that you decide to list on your corporate website should be thoroughly discussed to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Everyone on your team, including the development team, should understand why a feature is included and how it maps to the overall game plan.
Success comes with focus. Everyone on your team needs to agree on products and offerings, how they will be monetized and how success will be measured.