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If SMEs Ruled the World

Guest Blogger

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Time and again over the past few weeks, I’ve seen something that is so very true, and I am sure something that all marketers and agencies struggle with when developing digital assets. For this exercise, let’s pretend we’re building a Web site.

If any one department or practice had complete control
over designing and building a Web site,
it would be
AN ABOMINATION.

  • If User Experience had complete control over the site, it would be easy to find information, it would be extremely easy to use, there would be no confusion. It would be an overall excellent experience for the user. But it might be ugly, it might leave out some critical marketing goals. And it might look like this.
  • If Designers had complete control over the site, it would be gorgeous, elegant, unique. It may also be difficult to read (tiny gray type, anyone?), and made entirely of flash. So search engines wouldn’t see it, and mobile/iPad viewers wouldn’t stand a chance of getting what they needed out of it.
  • If Search Engine Marketers had complete control over the site, the site would be content-rich. It would be packed with the right keywords and phrases and links, the site architecture and metatags would be sweet candy to the Googles and Yahoo’s of the world. It might even rank number one in search engine results for certain keywords. But the copy wouldn’t be readable to a normal human being, it might be cluttered and unwieldy, and there’s a chance it would end up like this.
  • If Developers had complete control over the site, the code would be clean. It would be architected brilliantly. It might have some interesting technical bells and whistles that only a true techie could appreciate behind the scenes. But search engine optimization, user experience, design would likely not be part of that equation.
  • If the Client — and perhaps Account Services — had complete control over the site, it would be all about the product. It would clearly communicate the right marketing messages and calls to action. It would collect user data and likely tie back to sales. It might even feature the clients’ favorite color. But would it resemble anything that best served the user - whether that be the patient, caregiver, or healthcare professional? Maybe. Maybe not.

I could go on … If CRM experts had complete control over the site … If Copywriters had complete control over the site ...If SOCIAL MEDIA experts had control over the site … You get the picture. I could even step outside the agency setting and talk about "If REGULATORY had complete control over the site" or if "Patients had complete control over the site ..."

But I think you can fill in those blanks on your own.

I say all this with a smile and a bit of humor, with respect and apologies to the experts I mention above. Theseare, of course, extreme statements and extreme examples.

But be honest — do they ring true, even a little bit?

The best subject matter experts — whether they are Search Engine Optimization, Copywriting, Design, User Experience, Social Media, or someone else — realize their role is a piece of the big picture. Sometimes their role is critical to a project, sometimes it just isn’t. The best end-result represents the best examples of the sum of its parts. The best work must — first and foremost — meet its original objectives.

It’s important to have specialists and subject matter experts that bring all of these critical practices to the project. It’s also important to have perspective, find the middle ground, and keep your main objectives in sight.

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