On October 1, 2013 the much-anticipated new HealthCare.gov website was launched. This website was the technology hub of President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy achievement known now as Obamacare. Millions of Americans would come to the HealthCare.gov website, in some cases to get health insurance where they had none before.
You're responsible for a revenue generating website. There are hundreds of experts giving you advice and pulling you in different directions. Wouldn't it be nice to have a way to just step back and understand the big picture?
Web Reliability is an overarching structure for thinking about a web property. It serves as an organizing principle and a roadmap, a meaningful tool to help owners of web properties keep track of how well they are – or aren’t - delivering on promises to their customers. At its essence, Web Reliability is a checklist of must-haves, the website essentials needed to ensure customers get their needs met. Web Reliability as defined here is a comprehensive guide, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. It is a work in progress, and will continue to evolve over time.
Your website exists to serve your customer. You earn and keep your customer's loyalty when they can flow smoothly through your well-designed web system to get what they need, every time.
What is preventing a website customer from getting what they seek? You! And who can fix that? You!
Think about it. In reality, every website is a revenue generating website. But some are better at making money than others. Why is that?
Healthy websites are reliable in the same way airplanes are reliable. Millions of precision parts work reliably together in unison to keep the thing from crashing. #WebReliability
Money is like water. It flows. Hopefully through your website. And your customer should be able to do the same thing. Because it's their nature to flow too. If you let them! #WebReliability
Go! Go! Go! Grow! Grow! Grow! Hey wait, what happened? How come we're going out of business now? #WebReliability
As air flows over the wing of an airplane, it creates lift. The more reliable the air flow, the more reliably the plane stays in the air. Consistent flow means consistent success. Websites work in exactly the same way. #WebReliability
Water molecules flow through a pipe. Electrons flow through a circuit. Customers flow through a website. It’s all about the flow. #WebReliability
Customer flow is the single most important indicator of website reliability. How does it work? We've deconstructed Web Reliability into a 3 x 3 matrix that spells out the 9 components of a well-run revenue generating website. #WebReliability
The Web Reliability Framework can be used as a planning tool as well as a problem-solving tool. The framework helps you plan your website, optimizing customer flow for reliability. The framework can also help you troubleshoot a site where reliability is failing. #WebReliability
The Web Reliability Framework is a synthesis of what my team, my colleagues and myself have learned over 20 years of web development. #WebReliability
This book presents ideas about Web Reliability in a different format than the conversations, tweets, and blog posts that I’ve shared over time. It’s of course longer, but it’s also more detailed and opinionated.
I would like to first thank the Solspace team who has shown tremendous patience and steadfastness over a long period of time. They were the folks who actually generated this thought leadership, through their daily diligence, professionalism and love of service.
The guiding principle when seeking web reliability is flow. Wherever you find dependable flow you will also find an engaged and effective web team. They are the heartbeat of any reliably running web property.
It’s possible to devise all sorts of systems and processes for reliably running a revenue generating web property, but it’s impossible to do it successfully without a healthy team. A well-functioning team with an understanding of flow can manage to be effective even without clearly defined process and systems. Of course those things support the team in achieving efficiency as well as excellence, but in a worst-case scenario a healthy team can overcome almost any failure of planning, execution or support.
A healthy team has what we call “team flow.” This can be broken into three aspects, the three keywords used in talking about Web Reliability: motivation, resistance, and management. In the context of team, motivation refers to the motivating ‘why’ for working together and remaining committed to the team’s mission. In the context of team, resistance refers to the behaviors, attitudes and leadership methods that reduce and remove blocks to flow. In the context of team, management means appropriate accountability and supervision - ongoing validation and improvement of healthy team flow.
Good flow always begins with force, impetus, voltage. How much power is pushing the flow through a system? When it comes to teams, this force is called motivation. A team as a unit has a goal in mind, reliable revenue generation. This goal serves as objective guidance for the team. #WebReliability
In my experience, if your team is not made up of people who genuinely like solving problems for clients, everything else about your business will be an uphill climb. #WebReliability
The day you allow fun into your work is the day you open up a path for the best things in life to flow your way. #WebReliability
Perhaps the most powerful team motivator may be the desire for connection. #WebReliability
Which is better, the leader who everyone looks up to or the leader who goes almost unnoticed? #WebReliability
Why is everything so quiet? We haven't had a crisis in weeks? Are we still in business? #WebReliability
Trust cannot be underestimated and its importance on a team cannot be overstated. Within a group of people, if there was ever something that completely greased the skids of a team, it's trust. If there was ever something that completely clogged the arteries of a team, it's lack of trust. #WebReliability
In the realm of human interactions and team efficiency it should go without saying that physical, mental and relationship health are tied to less friction and more natural flow. #WebReliability
A team who is led by someone dedicated to low friction and team serenity can sustain their drive to serve over a long period of time. #WebReliability
Humor reminds and allows us to release attachments to old versions of ourselves. #WebReliability
Ongoing conversation exposes each participant to new ways of being and as such delivers opportunity for continuous improvement. #WebReliability
The effective leader uses metrics to see challenges emerging before they become problems. #WebReliability
A web property that reliably generates revenue embraces the importance of planning that in turn embraces the concept of flow. Good flow addresses three components: motivation, resistance and management.
In the context of planning, motivation is like pressure and corresponds to the methods whereby customers in need are targeted and guided into a web property's sales pipeline and in what volume. Resistance in the planning context corresponds to keeping the web sales pipeline clean and flowing, allowing a customer to easily move from first contact to conversion with minimal difficulty or delay. Management at the strategic level refers to validating strategic choices prior to taking action through analysis, testing and historical experience.
Just as Virgil guided Dante out of hell and on toward paradise, you too are the guide of someone's journey. #WebReliability
See your customer's future and soon they will flow towards it. #WebReliability
Strong narrative + compelling design + smart architecture = customer success. #WebReliability
Guide benevolently and you will achieve longevity and reliability by staying true to your customer's trust. #WebReliability
At the strategic level, once you have successfully identified customer motivation and then sustained it by orchestrating a clear path to their desired future state, all that remains is to avoid friction along that path.
Failing to provide a clear path and support for your customer's emotional being can create so much friction that their path is effectively blocked. #WebReliability
A reliable revenue generating web property, at the level of execution, embraces flow. Impetus, in the form of customer motivation to obtain the solution to their ailment, must be maintained over time. Friction between the customer entering and exiting the pipeline must be minimized. Monitoring of the customer and their desire to move smoothly through the system must be implemented and maintained.
Each of the disciplines and areas of expertise discussed below are in and of themselves vast. There is an entire industry dedicated to SEO, for example. And yet another industry dedicated to paid search; a multi-billion dollar industry. This Web Reliability System does not seek to describe all of these disciplines in depth, but rather to survey the landscape from on high.
Nevertheless, reducing friction is a laudable goal in the context of maintaining steady system flow. So too is the goal of describing the shape of the circuitry through which the current of customer desire flows. Below is a point of view about the shape of the circuitry of the machine through which your customer's desire moves.
More chapters coming soon…
Check back in a week for another chapter of Web Reliability.