Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's Missing From Your Website?

I was asked if I would be interested in a last minute freelance project to take a technical PowerPoint presentation for a consumer company’s business plan and turn it into an employee presentation. I was to report to the company's advertising agency and possibly begin work that afternoon. Knowing this was last minute with a short deadline I began research on the company in order to be better prepared for the project while waiting for a final approval call.

The company in this case was a smaller, but apparently well capitalized local firm that had been acquired by a European company 100 times its size in 2007. I looked at the entire website, paying particular attention to the About Us and Careers pages. Being this was an employee presentation, I wanted to see (if possible) how they already communicated to their employees, the Careers section might offer some insight.

There was a list of job openings with descriptions – very good, and better than many companies their size. However, other than a paragraph about training the only other information were links to the ADA act, Affirmative Action policies and the family and medical leave act, etc. (stuff that’s required to be posted by the government in the employee break area). There was nothing that would compel a candidate to seek a job with this company over a competitor. Nothing about the workplace culture, how employees are empowered or community involvement.

The austere Careers page was striking because the About Us page included, along with the mission statement, a section on “Our Commitment” to: “empowered employees and providing a meaningful work environment”, “personalized service that exceeds our customers expectations” and “the communities we serve.” This may well be, but there is nothing about any of the commitment anywhere else on the website. What wasn’t there says much about “Our Commitment.”

If I could not find out what the company was saying to its employees then what was the company saying to its customers? Usually these are not far apart. What does the company convey about itself. Back to the About Us. The first line about what the bank “strives for” is not reflected in the mission statement. Both were good – they just need to be combined. Then a paragraph about the size, the footprint, services and relationship to its European ownership. Pretty good so far but then: “For current news see our Press Section” Ah ha! Now I will get to see what the firm likes to say about itself. Sadly the last update was mid year 2007, mostly covering its acquisition by the European company.

The firm’s website was a bit revealing if unhelpful to my endeavor - I was not going to be as prepared as I hoped. However, I never got the call – it was handled “in-house”.

A good mission statement and commitment needs to be reflected in more than the statement. It needs to be such a strong part of the corporate culture (almost interchangeable) that it is reflected in communications – including the website. What is missing from your website is as important as what's on it.

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